Mezze is a gateway to the flavours of the Middle East, where lovers of foods with plenty of personality can eat, shop and discover the wonderful variety of cuisines from the countries dotted along the eastern Mediterranean shores including Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan,Lebanon and Syria.
The shop, deli and catering service was set up by Waterford woman Nicola Crowley and her Israeli husband Dvir Nusery, to bring the abundance of fabulous food experiences the couple discovered living and travelling in the Middle East to Ireland.
Nicola and Dvir enjoy creating dishes using the flavours of the Middle East combined with local produce. They are committed to using fresh, high quality ingredients sourced locally where possible for their street food and mezze.
Mezze is the name for a selection of small dishes served as appetisers or snacks throughout the Middle East. Mezze is to be shared – it brings people together through the discovery and enjoyment of food.
The deli, shop and catering business is based in the seaside town of Tramore. For those not living in the area, their handmade foods are available to buy online along with a range of carefully selected local and specialty ingredients.
I remember landing in Tel Aviv airport for the first time and being brought almost immediately to a falafel place by Dvir. My food journey into the amazing food of Israel and the Middle East had started and I was hooked!
Four different types of falafel being prepared in one of our favourite falafel places in Rehovot, Israel
As young adults with limited income when living together in Tel Aviv, Dvir and I sampled a lot of street food and went to casual restaurants where your order was shouted from your table to the kitchen or where you were greeted with a table full of mezze - dips, salads and breads - to get you started. We used to visit the local markets where we picked up our vegetables for the week, where the stall holders would question you on how to use vegetables to make sure you knew what to do with it!
Our local market in Ramle, Israel
We frequented street food stalls which are permanent establishments that usually specialise in one type of food so you’d have the guy on the corner who sells the best Tunisian sandwich, made with homemade fried rolls, filled with tuna, egg, potato, pickles and sauces, or you’d have the place which sells sabich; a sandwich made from egg, aubergine, zhug (a spicy coriander and chilli sauce from Yemen) and amba (a sauce which travelled the spice route to Israel from India). My favourite weekly treat was a pita with za’atar from a bakery in Yaffo, Tel Aviv. It inspired our za’atar lavosh flatbreads, one of our most popular retail products.
Nicola tucking in to a Pita with Za’atar from Abulafia bakery in Yaffo, Israel
After relocating to Ireland in 2016 with a 2 year old and a 6 week old we set to work (with a lot of help from my family!) starting our Middle Eastern food business. In Israel, Dvir worked as a logistics and transport manager and I worked in business development for English language courses so we had limited work experience in the food industry. But Dvir could make a mean hummus and we had a passion for wholesome foods and the flavours of the Middle East so we went for it! We served our Middle Eastern food at festivals and farmers markets, created pop up dinners in gorgeous and unique locations around the country, and created a range of retail products for independent shops in Ireland. We got amazing feedback from our customers along the way and it kept us going and creating.
Harvest food festival 2017, Waterford
After three years we were ready to set down roots to create a HQ for our business and in June 2019 we opened Mezze on Main Street, Tramore. Our multifunctional space is a hub for Middle Eastern food. We serve breakfast and lunch of Middle Eastern specialties such as falafel pita and Shakshuka (a Tunisian dish with eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce), as well as serving up local Trá Coffee roasters coffee with sweet nut filled pastries of baklava. We use our base to run pop up dinners which have a different theme each time; our best-selling event which sold out in less than 24 hours was cooked up by Dvir’s visiting mother. The deli is regularly transformed into a cookery school by night where we take participants through how to prepare some of their favourite Middle Eastern foods and then sit down to enjoy a feast.
Mezze on Main Street, Tramore
Our demo and dine nights at Mezze
Mezze wasn’t long open when we picked up national attention with Tom Doorley claiming that it "probably has the best Middle Eastern food in the country" (Daily Mail, September 2019). Katy McGuinness of the Sunday Independent listed Mezze as one of the top Middle Eastern restaurants in the country in February this year. The Mezze team have also managed to pick up some prestigious awards in their first year in business; the esteemed McKennas Guides award is displayed proudly on their shop front and a Shop of the Year 2020 trophy sits on their counter which they received just as the crisis hit for Best Newcomer in the Shop of the Year Awards 2020 run by the UK Guild of Fine Foods.