Haute Secrets Boston: Mohamad El Zein, Co-Owner of Moona


Mohamad El ZeinPhoto Credit: Moona Restaurant

Cambridge’s Inman Square received an Eastern Mediterranean addition when Moona opened its doors last year. Based on the Arabic word “mana” or “ma’oona” for storing, the English translation is better known as “pantry.”

According to the restaurant, “In the past, especially in remote villages in the Arab World, the moona was prepared during the bountiful harvest for consumption during winter’s harsh days, providing fundamental nourishment for the daily meal, having transformed perishable produce into food with a long shelf life.” Think olives, pickles, preserved lemons, cheese, herbs, jams, etc., which is the focus of the menu here with dishes like daily lamb with pickled cucumber and tahini; grilled striped bass and couscous tfaya.

We caught up recently with Mohamad El Zein, Moona’s co-owner, to find out what he loves most about Boston.

Where were you born:  Abu Dhabi, UAE

How long in Boston: 20 years

Neighborhood: Chestnut Hill

Occupation: Restaurant owner

Favorite Restaurant: Townsman

Best Sushi: o ya, next to South Station

Best Italian: Erbaluce, Bay Village

Best dessert: Everything at Sofra

Best place for a romantic date: Sorellina

Best Sunday brunch: Masa, South End

Best place for a power business meeting: Bristol Lounge, Four Seasons

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?  Mandarin Oriental

Favorite shopping venue/boutique:  Bloomingdale’s, Chestnut Hill

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches:  Hannoush Jewelers

Best Spa: Inman Oasis

Favorite Charity Event: Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

Favorite Cultural Event:  Palestine Film Festival

Favorite Cultural Institution:  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Best Steakhouse:  Grill 23, Back Bay

Best Pizza:  Coppa, South End

Best Lunch:  South End Pita, Boston

Best Gym/Athletic Facility:  Equinox

Best Massage:  Inman Oasis, Inman Square, Cambridge

Best Limousine/Driving Service:  Uber

Best Museum/Exhibit:  Isabella Gardner Museum

Describe Boston in three words: Home, Charming, Beautiful

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore:  Walden Pond

All-around favorite spot in Boston: At home with my wife and kids

Best Aspect of Boston:  Four seasons and amazing accessibility to many great cities