For Avi and Michaella Ben-Ari, opening a restaurant was an obvious step to take together. Avi's keen mind for business and his entrepreneurial experience, coupled with chef Michaella's degree from Tadmor Culinary Arts school in Tel-Aviv, made for a natural partnership. With the goal of introducing area diners to the warmth and hospitality inherent to Middle Eastern dining rooms, the Ben-Aris and their staff fill the restaurant with the aromas of handmade dishes and photos of each diner's grandmother. They make all of their Levantine staples from scratch, crafting them only with organic vegetables and meats. In the bustling kitchen, chefs eschew canned and frozen ingredients for healthful ones such as fire-grilled eggplant, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken, and freshly diced tomatoes and cucumbers.
In the Tao Restaurant kitchen, chefs labor over stoves during the three-day process of crafting housemade noodles and broth for their authentic Japanese ramen dishes. Iron grills sizzle with the meats and seafood of Japanese teppanyaki and teriyaki entrees, and sushi chefs slice up colorful maki rolls, adorning them with flourishes of cucumber flowers, slivers of radish, and intricately sculpted dollops of wasabi. Servers bear plates out into the dining room, where sunlight pours in through towering windows onto sleek tabletops. Nearby, pots of bamboo shake gently as though they were caught in a ge
Known for their successful takeover of Hudson Bay Café, I Squared proprietors Sadri Madjlessi and Tanya Anderson partner with executive chef Nory Madjlessi to combine traditional Iranian and Italian fare into one bold menu. Chef Nory honed his Italian culinary skills under Giovanni LoCoco at LoCoco's and absorbed knowledge of traditional Iranian recipes and cooking techniques from his mother. Rather than attempting traditional fusion fare, Chef Nory aims to stay true to the flavors of both countries, filling I Squared's ever-changing menu with Iranian staples such as fesenjoon—a stew of chicken, walnuts, and saffron served over basmati rice—as well as Italian classics, such as eggplant parmigiana. Using local and sustainable ingredients when possible, Chef Nory preps his signature lamb-stuffed cabbage wraps as patrons peek in the open kitchen from their places at minimalist butcher-block-topped tables. A stainless-steel-topped bar holds a beginner's alchemy kit and the makings of specialty and dessert cocktails along with extensive wine and beer offerings.