This New Rochelle Mom Just Opened Her Own Middle Eastern Kitchen

Fatima Saleh is serving fresh, eclectic, made-to-order dishes at The Nook.



Photo by Sibylla Chipaziwa

There is so much I want to tell you about The Nook … how virtually everything on the halal menu is made from scratch; how excited chef/owner Fatima Saleh and her son, Mohammad, are to see each familiar or new face; how eclectic the menu is — there’s baba ganoush, beef bacon, paninis, even a jerk-chicken special — but somehow it all works. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson himself is a fan of the falafel.

Fatima might very well remind you of your mother, and the restaurant exudes a sense of being at home as soon as you walk in the door. This has been Fatima’s dream since she moved to America in the late ’80s. Born in Puerto Rico, she’s of Jordanian and Brazilian descent, and has been cooking for as long as she remembers, mostly with her Brazilian stepmother, though she learned some tricks from Arab relatives, as well.

“I remember one time where she had three jobs,” says Mohammad, full of pride. “She’s a single mother; she did a lot to get here.” A New Rochelle resident for more than 20 years, Fatima worked at the popular Sonny Orza Bread Factory and catered before opening The Nook in August. “Leaving after 22 years, I did not know what to expect,” she says. “I left the Bread Factory with nothing in my pocket, but I told myself, 'I’m going to make it.'

The Nook is open seven days a week and offers breakfast (an order of the walnut French toast, please!), lunch, and dinner options. Are you gluten-free? Vegan? Just let Fatima know, and she can accommodate. She makes the quinoa-bean-and-mushroom veggie burger fresh to order — as she does with pretty much everything else — and is delicious when served with her avocado-cilantro Nook sauce.

While she cannot thank her family enough for helping make the restaurant a reality, Fatima counts her faith as a driving force. “After I’ve been through a lot of things, it’s a miracle that I’m talking to you here today,” she says with a smile.

 

The Nook
229 Main St
New Rochelle
914.235.6665

 

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