By Nancy Kalajian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of Noor Mediterranean Grill on a warm summer’s day brought back memories of the restaurant’s opening this year on an extremely frigid January 24. But, once settled in and delighting in Noor’s homemade selections, the climate is the last thing on your mind. From ordering your food at the counter, to watching a scoop being dipped into a chickpea and fava bean mixture, and then seeing more scoops made and all fried in front of your eyes to create the freshest made-to-order falafels, eating at Noor is a down-to-earth and delightful culinary experience.
Touches of Armenia and Lebanon influence the ambience of Noor, owned by Hilda Darian and her chef-husband Arsen Karageozian. As you soon as you enter the cozy 25-seat grill, you can’t miss an enlarged photograph of a heart embedded with hundreds of pomegranate seeds. “This symbolizes our love,” shared Hilda, a bit blushing and starry-eyed. Pomegranate magnets from Armenia also decorate a window case and greet guests. “We chose Noor as the name of our restaurant because it’s a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Armenian people would recognize it. Noor also means ‘light’ in Arabic,” she continued.
Darian discusses their family’s love and support in opening her and Karageozian’s first restaurant together. Her dad, Jack Darian, used his skills in leatherworking and made all the leather settees, in a warm olive-oil shade of green. Her mom gave advice on family recipes. Karageozian’s parents, recently arrived from Beirut, are good cooks too. “Our families have invested in our future. They believed in our dreams. We are blessed,” said Darian.
Both Darian and Karageozian grew up active in Armenian church and youth groups, and they speak Armenian with their young son, Tro. Karageozian’s ancestors have roots in Gherkhan and Zeitoun while Darian’s roots are in Adana and Aintab. Noor’s recipes touch on the best of these regions. Indeed, her grandmother’s more-than-100-year-old recipe for sarma has become a signature dish for Noor. Freshly made, it’s easy to keep eating these luscious delights.