You might not immediately think to head to Harlem for your Mediterranean fix, but a newcomer in an area known for its chicken and waffle joints is trying to change that: Turkish restaurant Savann, which opened on Monday at 2280 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, is looking to add a new option to an ever-diversifying area of Harlem.
“This is an up-and-coming neighborhood,” says Savann’s manager Gulnara Umar. “We are falling more in love with it every day. People were glad to see a new restaurant in the area since there are none like it here.”
Chef and Owner Galib Ozbek calls Harlem his home, so after he closed his restaurant of the same name in the Upper West Side last summer, he chose to come back to his neighborhood to re-open. According to Umar, when Savann opened on Amsterdam Avenue in 1995, it was a French restaurant. Ten years later, Ozbek converted it into a Mediterranean spot, since the area was lacking that cuisine at the time. But when more Mediterranean restaurants began to open nearby, Ozbek decided to shutter last summer.
Now Ozbek is attempting to do what he did for the Upper West Side in Harlem. His menu features Turkish classics, including tabbouleh for the vegetable-inclined and lamb sirloin for carnivores. “The lamb sirloin is better than a steak!” Umar says.
Painted bright yellow and lit by chandeliers, Savann is only open for dinner at this time. Umar says that they plan to open for weekend brunch in the coming weeks.