Taste the Mideast at Ba-Bite

Ba-Bite’s food is as colorful as the interior design. Salads swagger with a rainbow of organic, locally sourced vegetables, and the silken hummus has won the praises of patrons and restaurant critics alike.


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Dig into saffron cauliflower paired with salads at Ba-Bite for something delicious.

Photo by Lori Eanes

Piedmont Avenue must have some fertile soil to grow its garden of acclaimed restaurants: Homestead, Dopo, and Commis. And now Ba-Bite, a new Middle Eastern eatery whose walls and furnishings glow in marigold orange and buttercup yellow, has sprouted in the mid-block space formerly occupied by Pizza Pazza.

This cheerful, casual spot is a co-creation of husband and wife, Robert Gott and Mica Tabor, a baker and pastry chef who met in culinary school in 1998. For the last dozen years, they have operated Savoy Events, a high-end catering company. Last April, they opened Ba-Bite on a generous whim. When the contract of one of Savoy’s major clients ended, “We were faced with the prospect of laying off many treasured employees,” Gott said. “We opened a restaurant so we could preserve our crew and keep working together.”

Many dishes take advantage of Tabor’s Israeli heritage and culinary training. “Ba-bite” sounds like a Hebrew phrase meaning “at home.” The vibe is definitely homey, healthy, and now hopping with delighted diners.

Ba-Bite’s food is as colorful as its interior design. Salads swagger with a rainbow of organic, locally sourced vegetables. Try the butternut squash, quinoa, and cranberry studded with pumpkin seeds; the saffron cauliflower with green olives and golden raisins or the red cabbage with mung bean sprouts and dried figs. But don’t miss Ba-Bite’s juicy lamb kefta kebab with herbs and pine nuts.

The silken hummus has won the praises of patrons and restaurant critics alike. Gott said the secret is time and really good tahini.

Besides Israeli, Ba-Bite blends other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences in an open kitchen. Majadera, a comforting bed of spiced rice and lentils topped with fried onion threads and toasted pine nuts has Moorish roots. Ba-Bite’s crunchy falafels follow the Lebanese recipe of equal parts garbanzo and fava beans. Moroccan spices inspire their chicken tagine. A local, Palestinian/Jordanian baker makes the thick pita slices.

A pomegranate motif pops up throughout Ba-Bite. “It’s an ancient symbol of fertility that appears in the Bible,” Gott said. “Some believe it was a pomegranate that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.” If so, it’s a great symbol of the temptations that wait to be discovered at Ba-Bite—thankfully, without danger of expulsion.

 

Ba-Bite

3905 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-250-9526, www.BaBiteOakland.com

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