About the food
The Levant is a region of shared culture, history, and cuisine that sits at the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and stretches from Southern Turkey to the Sinai Peninsula. It encompasses the modern-day countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine - although the borders that cut across the region are relatively new and mostly arbitrary. The Levant is home to ancient civilizations and Damascus, Syria is considered to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world.
Through millennia of trade and conquest, ingredients and techniques from the Levant travelled across the Mediterranean Sea and Anatolian Peninsula to influence the cuisine in North Africa, the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey. While this sharing of food created some similarities, each of these civilizations developed their own unique, rich culinary heritage to be proud of. The commonly used term "Mediterranean food" is a misnomer that ignores the vast diversity of culture and cuisine in this far-reaching area of the world.
We chose the name Levantine's (LEV-an-teens) because it reflects the shared history of our particular region before modern borders were created and specifically defines the food traditions that we present to our customers.
We serve the food that we grew up with in Damascus. Fresh vegetables tossed in bright, citrusy dressings. Chicken marinated in yogurt and warm spices. Aromatic mixes of freshly ground spices - cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, tumeric, thyme, and more. House-made pickles, yogurt drinks, and delicate desserts. Hand-molded falafel complete with the traditional hole to ensure proper cook-through. We make it all fresh, in-house to order, because that's the way it's done back home. We are proud to share our traditions with you and we hope that it shines through in your meal. We hope you enjoy your taste of the Levant.
All of our food and ingredients are zabihah halal, which means they are permissible under Islamic dietary code. No pork or alcohol are on the premises and all meat carries a zabihah halal certificate from the Halal Food Council USA.
About the people
Mohammad AlFayad is the head chef, owner, and manager of Levantine's Cafe & Bakery. Mohammad grew up in Damascus, Syria where he helped his mother in the kitchen to feed their family of seven and ate falafel sandwiches from nearly every falafel shop in the city (a massive undertaking). Mohammad came to the United States in 2012. He received his AAS in Tooling & Machining from MCC in 2014 and worked as a mold maker and machinist for several years. His love of good food, pride in his Syrian heritage, and desire to own his own business led him to create Levantine's. You can find Mohammad at Levantine's every day of the week, carefully preparing his family's recipes for you.
Beth AlFayad is the owner and administrator of Levantine's. Beth grew up in Webster, NY as a wildly picky eater with a lot of wanderlust. She majored in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University and lived in Yemen and Jerusalem before making her way to Damascus where she and Mohammad met while working on a horse farm in 2010. She is excited to introduce Rochester to authentic Levantine food and spread knowledge about this immensely rich area of the world. Beth currently works as a data administrator for a charter school network in Rochester.
We live on the west side of Rochester with our 2 children. We noticed a deficit in diverse food options, and complete absence of halal options near our home. It was a natural choice for us to open our business in this area so that we could introduce a different type of cuisine and provide zabihah halal food right in our own neighborhood.
About the business
Levantine's is a small, family-run business. We bounced around the idea of owning a cafe for over 8 years before finally taking the huge leap into opening our own restaurant. We renovated the space, purchased equipment, created our menu, and hired staff all while working full-time "normal" jobs and raising our young children. Levantine's opened its doors in 2019 and is truly a labor of love. We seek to create an environment that is welcoming, friendly, and clean for all of our guests. When you email us or interact with us on social media, you are interacting directly with either Beth or Mohammad. We are here to bring you the best darn Levantine food that we can and sincerely hope that you enjoy your experience with us.