1. Sawa
    Photograph: Julien Levy for Time Out New York
  2. Sawa
    Photograph: Julien Levy for Time Out New York
  3. Sawa
    Photograph: Julien Levy for Time Out New York
  4. Sawa
    Photograph: Julien Levy for Time Out New York
  • Restaurants | Lebanese
  • Park Slope
  • Recommended



4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

Sibling owners Samaya Boueri Ziade and George Boueri have astutely tuned their first restaurant, Sawa, to a welcoming frequency. When balance is well and truly struck as it is at this new Lebanese restaurant, the meal is straightforward, easy to enjoy, and all the richer for it. 

Located at Park Slope’s edge on 5th Avenue, shiny tile, white marble and whitewash bounce light from windows front and back making the place feel open and airy. Virtually nothing here happens out of sight: 45 seats are spread across two halves connected in a horseshoe, so entering the main dining room necessitates a smartly calculated stroll past the pita oven that  pumps out warm pocket loaves, a tasteful gallery of Lebanese sundries, and an open kitchen helmed by Gramercy Tavern and Sofreh alum, Soroosh Golbabae. 

The effect is a (successful) sense of invitation. Early on a weekday evening, within a half hour of opening its doors, Sawa’s tables were full of casual diners chatting amiably with a friendly staff happy to elucidate the Lebanon-of-it-all. The fare follows suit: inviting, tasty, and clear-cut to mostly great effect. 

While the cocktail program takes no big swings—it consists almost entirely of classics with more of a wink at Lebanese flavors than a full-on embrace—everything went down easy and was unfussy and well-balanced. Plus there’s a decent wine selection alongside Lebanese beer, mocktails, and Arak (Lebanon’s own anise-flavored liquor), so there was something for everyone.

Most meals will be inaugurated with the aforementioned warm pita accompanying the usual suspects of Mid-East dips ranging in price from $12 to $13, but adding tender cubes of Wagyu beef cheek to the hummus for $5 makes the experience more novel and crave-able. Proceedings grow spicier, more fragrant and more textured in a second course of Mezze: Batata Hara, a fried potato cake accompanied by an assertive garlic condiment ($16); grilled squid with grains in a black ink sauce ($19); and the course’s (server wisely recommended) star plate: Kibbeh Nayeh, minced raw lamb akin to beef tartare topped with sumac and served with pita chips. The Kibbeh Nayeh’s richness was smartly balanced by a spicy, raw, alliumic veg salad. For $22, I would return to eat that dish again without sharing. 

I should mention that, in a few moments throughout the meal, my dining companion and I agreed that a few dishes leaned ever-so-slightly too hard on ingredients’ inherent flavors, leaving us both wishing for a little extra zip of acid here, a fleck of salt there. But even in those instances, the cookery offered more to admire than critique.

With proper ordering in the first and second courses, any of the mains sampled for this review could be shared. Sumptuous, with all of the ingredients intelligently playing themselves in both starring and supporting roles, each entree was delicious and generously portioned, and therefore reasonably priced. The Beiruti Samka Harra, for example, is a whole daurade served on a mild tomato and pepper sauce. The fish itself (deboned for your convenience) is cooked simply and beautifully—the whole thing topped with an herbaceous chimichurri and spicy slivers of raw pepper–worthwhile at $41. Another standout is the Kastaletta ($46), an array of four well-seasoned, medium-rare, bone-in lamb chops, their unctuousness perfectly paired with tangy labneh and charred, sweet, grilled scallions. 

Rounding the bases to dessert, Nammoura is a not-oversweet semolina cake served with a light, orange-perfumed custard, which, for $12 is hard to pass up.

Sawa offers no major revelations, but that isn’t a critique. It’s Lebanese cuisine calibrated with New York savvy. Nothing overthought, overworked, or to ‘get.’ Sawa delivers on the promise made when you’re welcomed through the door: an honest, delicious, satisfying dining experience well worth a night out with family and friends.


The Vibe: Breezy, comfortable, casual but refined. A crowd pleaser.

The Food: Cheffy but not overworked Lebanese dishes celebrating Mediterranean ingredients in straightforward yet nuanced preparations. The meal could easily grow or shrink by leaning more into early courses, but the mains are not to be missed. 

The Drinks: Nice wine selection, a couple of beers, mocktails, and cocktails that add a Lebanese twist to the classics.

Sawa is located is located at 75 5th Avenue. It is open Wednesday-Sunday, 5:30-11pm.


75 5th Avenue
Cross street:
Prospect Place
Opening hours:
Wednesday-Sunday, 5:30pm-11pm
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