The spirit of the namesake lives on at Labebe restaurant, in the most delicious, comfortable, and stylish of ways. Located at 2150 Route 130 in North Brunswick, Labebe nestles a cozy atmosphere within upscale decor as hungry visitors enjoy a vast array of delectable Mediterranean cuisine.
It’s almost like taking a Mediterranean cruise without ever leaving the dock.
Named after the owner’s mother, Labebe, the establishment combines her qualities of warmth, hospitality, and unforgettable food when guests came calling. Hailing from Lebanon’s mountain village of Jwar el Hawz, Labebe swore by the importance of fresh products, something her long-time restaurateur family members have utilized since opening two years ago.
And while food is the attraction, the staff wants it to be more than just a meal. Between the music, lighting, and enchanting setting, the experience can range from comfortable, to romantic, to exciting.
Photos of Labebe and her village adorn the foyer, leading to a main dining room in which lustrous mosaic walls make the area come alive, but not in an overbearing way. Two separate rooms cater to meetings and celebrations. One never feels cramped within the 130-seat dining area. It’s so pleasant that interior designer Judith Chirico won the 2016 Design Excellence Award from the New Jersey chapter of American Society of Interior Designers.
New outside eating areas have been added. They include a picturesque balcony setting on which visitors are nestled within an assortment of eye-pleasing plants, as well as a porch area on the side of the building. An eclectic mix of live music will soon enhance the adventure.
It puts one in the perfect frame of mind to enjoy an authentic meal that features dishes from countries throughout the Mediterranean.
Appetizers of stuffed grape leaves, grilled octopus, babba ghanouj, hummus, falafel, spinach pie, msakaa, grilled artichoke hearts, and much more get things started. Soups, salads, and cheese plates are also enticing.
The main courses, all reasonably priced, include pasta dishes such as Seafood Risotto and Rigatoni Siciliano and, of course, classic Mediterranean entrees such as Kafta, Lamb Kebab, Paella, Shish Taouk, and Lamb Chops. There are a wide variety of Vegetarian dishes to choose from as well. Complement your meal with sides such as sautéed spinach, rice pilaf, and roasted fingerling potatoes.
Traditional Baklava, a Lebanese yogurt parfait, Asmaliye, and Tira Misu are just some of the desserts to die for.
Drinks range from wines throughout the Mediterranean region to cocktails such as Beirut Biloma, Aphrodite’s Kiss, the Old Santorini, Pompeii Mojito and Amore Mio. Sangria is a must, and international beers are also on tap.
With autumn having arrived, seasonal dishes feature warm goat cheese salad, butternut squash bisque, and a unique kibbeh laktin (made of pumpkin burghul, chick peas, spinach, and sumac). There are also a number of pumpkin spiced cocktails from the bar.
In just two years, Labebe has been a multiple winner of OpenTable.com’s “Open Table Diners’ Choice” monthly award. It truly is a unique and wondrous dining voyage that one will wish to navigate over and over.
In fact, the restaurant’s motto sums it up: Come and be welcome. Stay and be friends.
It’s the creed that Labebe lived by. It now lives on in North Brunswick.
Labebe Mediterranean Cuisine, 2150 Route 130 North, North Brunswick. 732-658-6400. Hours: Monday to Thursday, noon to 10 p.m.; Friday to Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday noon to 9 p.m. www.labeberestaurant.com