Tucked inside the bustling Feather Hill Village in the heart of Southold is a new spot where can take your palate on its very own Odyssey of flavor.
The aptly named Southold Mediterranean Restaurant opened its doors on Saturday, Nov. 25, serving classic Turkish cuisine. From charred kebabs and creamy, garlicky hummus and sweet baklava, Southold Mediterranean Restaurant uses fresh, made-from-scratch ingredients to deliver the flavors of Turkey that have up until now have never been part of the culinary landscape of Southold.
“We are going to serve Turkish ingredients that are similar to Greek, but taste completely different,” said Osman Yalman, who, in partnership with Ali Ergis of Rose and Dee’s in Greenport, decided to open the business. “I want this to be a place where people can have fun and a different experience.”
For the past decade, Yalman has been on a career journey of his own. He spent many years working for Royal Caribbean International Cruises and owned a travel agency back in Turkey. When he moved to New York City seven years ago, he found himself serving and bartending in Greek and Italian restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. But when the pandemic hit, he decided to make the move out East to work the Montauk bar scene.
“It is a very nice location,” said Yalman. “I was like, why not open a restaurant here?”
For the past four years, Yalman has dreamed of owning a restaurant himself. While many places throughout the North Fork deliver on Mediterranean flavor, such as Hellenic Snack Bar in East Marion and Olive Branch in Greenport, Turkish and Greek cuisine options in Southold have been missing. Yalman’s restaurant fills the gap.
Walking into Southold Mediterranean Restaurant, patrons are greeted by high cathedral ceilings of dark wood, which complement the light blues and grays of the walls. Evil eyes (meant to ward off any lurking nefarious intentions — hey, we could all use a little help), dangling from every beam, twinkling against the wicker sconces.
Healthy and vegetarian options will also be on the menu. Yalman insists that everything be made from scratch.
“Nothing comes from cans. We slice, chop, mix almost everything in the kitchen,” he said. The kebabs are also served in the form of wraps and smaller snacking portions. Flavors such as traditional kofte lamb meatballs — which come with lettuce, tomato, onion and fresh parsley — or the Eagan-style veggie wrap (named for one of the Aegean region of Turkey), served cold with eggplant, tomato sauce, a spicy ezme dip, a classic Turkish sauce that consists of tomatoes, pepper, parsley, onion, walnut, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
And not to worry, there’s plenty of tzatziki, too, made with diced cucumbers and served on the side.
“My tea is brewed fresh daily and my lemonade is homemade and I hope to do some infusions, too, like strawberry and mint lemonade,” explained Yalman.
Southold Mediterranean Restaurant is located at 53345 Main Road, Unit 3/1 in Southold and is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Yalman also plans to begin serving options for breakfast next year. On Mondays through Thursdays, the restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find more information and see the menu here.