A Mediterranean Bistro with

Manhattan Style

By Dan Schwartz

 

Philippe Maatouk, the owner of Kartabar, is a larger-than-life kind of guy, and his bustling restaurant is a true reflection of his gregarious style. You won’t complete a meal without a visit from Philippe, who wants to make sure you’re having fun and the food is to your satisfaction. “I love what I’m doing,” he says. “Every customer who walks through the door, I consider a VIP.” That is the Kartabar way, bolstered by the professionalism of his staff and the chic setting. The cuisine is mixed-Mediterranean, with some American classics. Their Calamari Corfu – dressed with lemon, garlic, pepper rings and parsley – is quite tasty, as is their famous hummus appetizer. Kartabar is the type of establishment where the ambiance makes you want to sit at the bar and enjoy one of their signature martinis while slowly working through an appetizer or grilled pizza. “There are some places you go to just to eat, and some places just to drink,” Philippe explains. “Here, with our good music, food and drink selection, you have the whole package.” The emphasis at Kartabar is definitely the entire experience, and that includes value as well. A grilled Filet Mignon (stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese) is just over $20, and many of the generous pasta dishes are in the $12 range. You’re getting that New York City feel without the New York City prices. During nice weather the windows are thrown open and the patio tables in front are full of chatting couples. The outdoor seating on Thayer street really gives it a cosmopolitan touch. Kartabar is essentially a family establishment, in that Philippe treats everyone like a close relative. Hailing from Lebanon, Philippe learned from his father Hanna the meaning of hospitality: “He never sat at a table to eat by himself,” Philippe says. “He always had family or neighbors over to eat with him. He loved treating people well in our home.” The service at Philippe’s restaurant is designed to make you feel welcome and cared for, reflecting that warm culture. Kartabar offers a diverse lunch offering starting at 11:30am, from panini and sandwiches to smaller-sized versions of their pasta dishes. The full dinner menu is available until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and there is a unique late night menu as well. Philippe’s Room is a private function area – perfect for holiday parties – that has its own bar and can handle 30-35 people seated for dinner or 50-60 standing for cocktails. The curtain can be drawn between the main dining area for privacy. A message from Philippe that nicely sums up Kartabar’s mission: “Every customer’s happiness is my happiness.” Come experience Kartabar for yourself.

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