By Jodi Duckett, The Morning Call
Allentown, PA – The exotic flavors of Ethiopia got an official Allentown welcome Feb. 7. The lively grand opening of MariamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Restaurant, with guests MayorÃ‚Â Ed PawlowskiÃ‚Â and city officials, community leaders and a crowd of supporters, included a demonstration of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, traditional dancing and a huge feast.
Chef Beleteshachew Mulata, who co-owns the business with husband Ebisa, chose the name MariamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to honor the Virgin Mary, her patron saint.
An African desert tree, designed by Deborah Rabinsky, adorns the front window of MariamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. The Mulatas revitalized the facade with a grant from the 7th Street Main Street Program. The decor of the 28-seat dining room is clean, bright and simple, with Ethiopian artwork on the walls.
At the core of the concise menu is house-made injera, a crepe-like (and gluten-free) bread with a sourdough tang that essentially serves as the plate. Sauteed and stewed meats, lentils and vegetables are piled on top and the diner rips pieces of the injera to scoop up the richly seasoned food.
Although Ethiopian food is traditionally zesty, dishes can be ordered mild. Complex spices also extend to brewed herbal tea and cinnamon-scented coffee, roasted and ground on-site before being prepared and served from a jebana, a graceful ceramic pot.
An American menu satisfies timid eaters and kids.
MariamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Restaurant is at 446 N. Seventh St.; open daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Info: 484-661-5000.
Source:Ã‚Â The Morning Call