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anoush’ella saj kitchen coming soon

BOSTON – A first time restaurateur and designer, Nina Festekjian, will spice up the South End later this month with the opening of anoush’ella: saj kitchen, a “Fine Casual” Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, inspired by her Armenian-Lebanese heritage.

Located on the corner of Washington and West Newton Streets, anoush’ella will bring a contemporary twist on the classic wraps and salads found in the bazaars and souks (street markets) of Beirut and Aleppo and the streets of Yerevan and Jerusalem. Guests will be able to dine-in or take out. To complement the food, anoush’ella will serve local craft beer and wine as well as signature cocktails.

“anoush’ella” means “may it be sweet” — an Armenian expression for the love and pride that goes into serving someone who enjoys your food and thanks you. The nam underscores Nina’s belief that when food is prepared with love it not only awakens the palate but also enriches the mind and satisfies the soul.

The centerpiece of anoush’ella is the saj, a convex metal grill where chefs will griddle-to-order m’anoush, a thin flatbread used as a wrap for sandwiches as well as an edible scoop for dips, soups, salads, grains, and marinated meats and poultry. “The menu is meant to capture the explosive flavors of Eastern Mediterranean street food of my childhood,” says Nina Festekjian.

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. anoush’ella will use the freshest available local ingredients, including organic chicken and antibiotic-free lamb and beef. The signature labne bar is a strained yogurt served with a selection of savory or sweet options. Spices are carefully sourced from select providers from around the world.

The culinary foundation of anoush’ella’s menu is a homemade flatbread wrap called m’anoush (cooked on the saj), that is topped with a variety of ingredients and grilled and hand rolled to order. Additionally, diners can choose from other Mediterranean specialties like hummus, lamadjoun “pizzas,” za’taar chicken, grill koftas and overnight braisd beef. With many salads, soups, and assorted dips, the restaurant is vegetarian-friendly.
The newly constructed space features oversized windows overlooking bustling Washington Street. As envisioned by Nina and designed in partnership with Jim Piatt of Piatt Associates, the restaurant will offer a comfortable yet elegant look designed to be both spacious and inviting – is a brick and mortar metaphor for Nina’s commitment to community and cultural sharing. The interior and its materials reflect this with ironwork details to echo the iron Saj itself, gray ash planking mimicking the weathered wood of the mountains, fire-worn black stone tiles, and contemporary bentwood seating  to invoke the comfort of a café in the souk. A large communal table in the center of the space is an enlarged spice box, providing a rich contrast to the fresh meals and bright seasonal dishes that will be served.

There’s a bar and communal table as well as outdoor seating. The restaurant will accommodate about 58 indoor and 34 outdoors.

Though the restaurant is the brainchild of Nina Festekjian, anoush’ella is owned and operated  with her husband Raffi.

It was love at first sight for anoush’ella owners Nina and Raffi Festekjian. While both were born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Raffi lived in Boston in the early 1990’s, pursuing a post-graduate career in high tech. On a trip back to Beirut, he met Nina. The couple was engaged after two weeks and now have been married for 24 years. Nina’s background is interior design and fashion, while Raffi built several technology companies and wrote software for financial risk and regulatory areas. Both are avid home cooks. Their individual histories and shared culinary roots come together at anoush’ella, where Nina’s refined aesthetic informs both the cuisine and the décor, and Raffi’s scientific mind fosters connections between the kitchen and diners. At anoush’ella, the Festekjians’ shared love for each other and the foods of their homeland will magically transform your dinner into an unforgettable experience.
anoush’ella is located at 35 W. Newton Street in Boston’s South End. Hours: Daily 11am-11pm. Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 8am-1pm.


Bon Appetit names Northeast winners in 50 Best New Restaurants list

Congratulations to Bon Appetit’s Northeast winners in its top 50 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. They include:
Asaka, Brooklyn, NY

Bucktown, Providence, RI

Hart’s, Brooklyn, NY

Le Coucou, New York, NY

Mamaleh’s, Cambridge, MA

Nina June, Rockport, ME

Olmstead, Brooklyn, NY

Wine of the Week – Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2015

Summer days are upon us and we’re delighted to be sipping this Pinot Blanc from Trimbach. Dry and fresh, it’s perfect with seafood – think shellfish – quiches and light seasonal dishes. The Trimbach estate has been making wine for a very long time – nearly 400 years since 1626. This soft, fruity, yet dry white is ideal for the season and year-round, paired with seafood and light meals. It is 13 percent ABV and offers the refreshment we seek in warmer weather. The winemaker calls it “a wine for pure pleasure,” and with a modest suggested retail price of around $14, it’s an excellent value. Check it out at


Winebow Group expands distribution into RI

RICHMOND, VA – The Winebow Group recently began distribution In Rhode Island, increasing its reach to 21 states across the U.S. The RI business is now overseen by Mary Masters, vice president and general manager of Winebow New England, and Arjun Dewan, executive vice president, Wholesale East.

Victory Brewing redefines lagers

DOWNINGTOWN, PA – Victory Brewing Company recently unveiled Home Grown New American Lager with six varieties of American whole-flower hops and 4.8 percent ABV. The hops – Azacca, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Citra and Mosaic – pair juicy, resinous aromas with a mix of low-bitterness and citrus flavor plus a touch of malt, the brewer points out. It’s currently available in PA, NJ and DE.

Oxbow Brewing Co. creates a tart saison with hints of lobsters

NEWCASTLE, ME – The brewers at Oxbow Brewing Co. created what they call “a salted funy-tart saison” with lobsters added in to offer what they called “a light-handed” lobster twist to bring “maritime funk into the beer.” They added a dozen lobsters to the boiling kettle of grain, cooking them in the mash for 12 minutes. The beer, Saison Dell’Aragosta, is said to be slightly boozy and refreshing, a rich dark brew.

Diner en Blanc returns to Boston Sept. 9th

BOSTON – Diner en Blanc is coming back to Boston Saturday, Sept. 9 to a location to be announced at 5:45 p.m. that day!

The city is one of 70 international locations to host the unique experience – a delightful gathering of some 2,500 people all dressed in white in an undisclosed public space, the location of which will be revealed minutes prior to the event. Guests arrive with tables, chairs and picnic baskets in-hand to create an over-the-top, elegant picnic. Once the party is brought to life, guests mingle, dine and dance. Then, the party disappears as quickly as it began.

Registration to participate happens in three stages: Phase 1 is for members who attended the previous year; Phase 2 is for new members who are referred by Phase I attendees; Phase 3 is for guests who sign up on the waiting list. Sign-up now at


Local hosts of Le Dîner en Blanc Boston, Samantha Kanter, Anna Berezina and Kelly Early, are leading the way, organizing over 40 volunteers to help bring this exciting tradition to life in their hometown. The team fell in love with the concept at previous events (Boston Children’s Museum’s Waterfront Terrace in 2016; Boston City Hall Plaza in 2015; Moakley Federal Courthouse in 2013), and are looking forward to adding their own local flair this fall.

The evening is filled with visually breathtaking moments including the waving of a cloth napkin to mark the beginning of the dinner and the lighting of sparkler wands to encourage guests to get up, mingle and dance. When, at the end of the evening the trumpet sounds, guests pack up their belongings and head back into the night, leaving behind no sign of their revelry.


To maintain the uniqueness of Le Dîner en Blanc as well as stay true to tradition, guests must observe certain requirements and follow a few rules:

  • Once confirmed, each guest’s participation becomes mandatory, regardless of weather conditions. This is a rain or shine event.
  • Dress code: elegant and white only. Originality is encouraged as long as it is stylish and tasteful.
  • Table setting: all white!
  • Champagne and/or wine. Beer and hard liquor are prohibited.
    • As per Massachusetts regulations, guests cannot bring their own alcohol. Guests wishing to enjoy wine or Champagne, must reserve online through the Dîner en Blanc’s e-store. Guests are welcome to bring their own non-alcoholic beverages.
  • To ensure that the location secret is kept undisclosed until last minute, guests must meet at their assigned departure location and are escorted by a Le Dîner en Blanc volunteer.
  • In order to leave the event location as clean as when they arrived, guests are required to leave with all their belongings, leftovers and litter.

Le Dîner en Blanc guests must bring:

  • A table, two white chairs and a white tablecloth.
  • A picnic basket with fine food and proper stemware and white dinnerware.

Picnic baskets by local food partners (to be announced soon) can be pre-ordered and picked up on site. Guests choosing this option must reserve online through the Le Dîner en Blanc e-store during the registration process.

This year, Kobrand Wines is the exclusive wine and Champagne Taittinger as the exclusive Champagne for the event of the 2017 edition of Le Dîner en Blanc in Boston. For complete details, check out






Wine of the Week – Kanonkop Kadette

The Kanonkop Kadette Dry Pinotage Rosé 2015 from South Africa is a traditional rosé with rich aromatic raspberry and cherry flavors from this Stellenbosch winery whose name means “Cannon Hill,” referring to the days when cannons were fired to signal the arrival of Dutch trading ships into Cape Town Harbor.

With grapes from Stellenbosch, east of Cape Town, the 2015 wine was made after a cold and wet winter with a moderate ripening period, harvested on January 28, 2015. The wine has soft tannins and complexity, with a long finish. It is 14% ABV and makes for lovely sipping on a warm summer day or evening.

Wine of the Week – Jovaeri Tsipouro

This Greek wine comes from the countryside and reflects its origins with authentic tastes and traditional Greek values, says its importer, Greek Boys Choice Foods Inc. in Tarpon Springs, FL. It’s a traditional drink from the Greek countryside where the art of distilling goes back hundreds of years to the Byzantine era where the monks of Agio Oros on the Athos Peninsula initiated the Meteora monks in the secrets of distillation.

Tsipouro is said to resemble its country of origin, enduring over time, adapting, but never losing its authenticity. This version, without anise, is a grappa or Greek brandy and lights up the roof of your mouth upon first sip. There is a purity about this richly flavored wine and a sense of its long history (first made in 1856). During distillation in Tirnavos, Greece, the winemaker takes off the first fractions, the “heads,” and the last ones, the “tails,” retaining only the “heart” which settles, becoming “jivari” and receiving several distillations before settling in stainless steel tanks to mature. It’s generally served in shot glasses, we’ve heard, although we poured it in a wine glass.

The wine distiller and bottler, Katsaros Nikolaos & Co. in Tirnavos, Greece, calls it the “water of life.” In the U.S. it is available from Greek Boys Choice Foods, Inc. in Tarpn Springs, FL (