A short drive up Route 1 to Route 130 takes you to a world away: a world redolent with the scent of the freshest spices, produce, and meats that are the heart of Mediterranean cuisine. Host Pierre Hage-Boutros welcomes you to his newest venue with the same warmth and hospitality that his mother, Labebe, greeted all who came to her door. Labebe continues the family tradition of hospitality. Son Tony works alongside his father making sure guests have a special meal.
Pierre places the same emphasis on the quality of the ingredients that go into his recipes that his family did for generations in their mountain village in Lebanon. Having grown up in the farming tradition that prizes plucking the bounty of the earth at its peak, Pierre brings the smells and tastes of his home to North Brunswick. Dishes are prepared fresh each day. Indeed, the rich, creamy labne takes two full days to prepare. Guests enjoy recipes that have been handed down for generations.
Open only two months, Labebe, run by Pierre and his family, now serves lunch and dinner. A collage of pictures in the foyer introduces diners to the namesake of the place, Labebe, and her family village. The venue boasts two separate rooms perfect for business, civic meetings, or personal celebrations with plenty of room and privacy. The main dining room has a chic modern decor of rich browns, creams, and the sparkle of sleek mosaic walls. The tables are well spaced and large enough to accommodate the myriad of dishes that entice your tastebuds.
The menu is comprehensive but not so large that each dish cannot be created fresh. Pierre emphasizes the variations of dishes that travelers to the Mediterranean encounter — a trip for the palate and the senses. For diners who have experienced the cuisine of the region during their travels, dinner at Labebe will transport them back to the jasmine scented hills. This is the menu to stretch your tastes and explore authentic traditional dishes. Favorites such as seafood, pasta, and steak are also expertly prepared. No matter your taste, the helpful staff will guide you through the variety of choices.
Dessert is a must. Feathery light tiramisu and the equally light asmaliye with its hints of orange blossoms are perfect endings to the meal. Heartier appetites can indulge in a sinful chocolate lava cake. And who could resist real baklava?
The bar boasts a notable wine list from several regions in the Mediterranean, bearing the scent of ripe berries. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 Monday through Friday. The full menu is available at the bar as well. Labebe is open Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.; Monday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. Labebe will happily cater your next event as well.
Come and be welcome. Stay and be friends.
Labebe, 2150 Route 130 North, North Brunswick. 732-658-6400. www.labeberestaurant.com. See ad, page 15.