An eatery with Turkish-inspired specialities soon will open its doors in downtown Nazareth.
Mersin on Main plans to move into 52 S. Main St. sometime next month. The site most recently housed the Dolce cafe and prior to that, Xpresso Cafe and JellyBean Town USA. Owners Eileen Simak and Erdinc Uzun of Bushkill Township say the name comes from the port city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.
“We wanted a unique name — a single word and one people could pronounce,” Simak told lehighvalleylive.com. “ ‘Mersin’ was pretty easy and (we) then added ‘on Main’ to be catchy.”
Simak said all dishes on the menu are made with authentic Mediterranean ingredients. There’s a variety of marinated, grilled, sautéed and baked meats, as well as poultry, seafood, salads, soups and desserts. The eatery, which offers BYOB, plans to have dine-in service, takeout and catering.
A native of Middlesex County, New Jersey, Simak moved to Nazareth in 1988 and is a 1991 Nazareth Area High School graduate. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, master’s degree in medical management and earned her doctorate degree in osteopathy. She works as a geriatrician for a major area health network.
Uzun grew up in Mersin, Turkey, and became a United States citizen in 2018. He has an extensive background in the culinary industry, training under experienced chefs throughout Turkey, London and New York City. He was the main chef at various restaurants in London and New York but never owned his own business.
This is the first venture for the couple. Together, they have five children.
Simak and Uzun spotted the vacancy in the downtown area while having lunch in January. They then seriously began discussing going into business with Uzun doing most of the cooking, Simak handling the administrative duties and their two teenage sons taking orders. There is indoor dining capacity for 25 people given the guidelines set forth by Gov. Tom Wolf during the pandemic.
They have future plans to incorporate outdoor seating for 10 to 15 patrons and are renovating a rear patio.
Here are some of the offerings at Mersin on Main:
Appetizers include such items as hummus (mashed chick peas blended with tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic); cacik (yogurt mixed with sour cream, cucumbers, mint, garlic and olive oil); and fried calamari (served with marinara sauce).
Wraps run the gamut from Adana, which is hand-chopped lamb seasoned and marinated with bell peppers and grilled on a skewer before being rolled in a lavash bread with tomatoes and lettuce; to Falafel, which is ball-shaped mashed chick peas mixed with parsley and cilantro before being deep fried and rolled up in a lavash bread with tomatoes, lettuce and tahini sauce.
Gyros include the popular Alexander, which has layers of gyro served with a special tomato sauce and yogurt on top of buttered bread.
Traditional Turkish dishes include Manti, which is homemade pasta filled with meat, parsley and spices and served with garlic mint yogurt sauce, paprika and butter; Bamya, which is okra stew with seasonal vegetables and tomato sauce; Moussaka, which is sauteed eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and carrots mixed into a casserole and baked with a bechamel sauce and cheese; and Sultan Delight, a classic Ottoman dish featuring lamb or chicken over smoked eggplant puree topped with tomato sauce.
Desserts include Baklava, which has layers of dough rolled with walnuts and cinnamon and topped with special homemade syrup; Sutlac, a traditional rice pudding; and Sekerpare, which are Semolina dough cookies topped with homemade syrup.
A weekend brunch menu includes various omelettes, eggs Benedict, crepes and french toast — all served with a complimentary mimosa. Entrees range in price from $16 to $25.
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.