IN THE HEART OF NIAGARA FALLS’ LITTLE ITALY, housed in a former Knights of Columbus, sits a hidden gem of Middle Eastern cuisine.
The 755 Restaurant & Lounge is a family business, owned by Basma
Merhi, who also runs the kitchen, and managed by her daughter, Hana.
Serving Lebanese food in the middle of red-sauce-dominated Pine Avenue may seem odd, but Hana says the neighborhood is evolving. “
People are coming in, making moves,” she says. “It does help that we do
serve not only Lebanese food, but also American food. We serve food
that we like to eat.”
by NICK GUY
Hana Merhi says The Feast ($35) is
a perfect expression of what Lebanese
cuisine is about. Designed to feed at
least two—and likely more, depending
on appetites—the meal includes creamy
hummus and baba ganoush, three crisp
and perfectly seasoned falafel, two
flaky spinach pastries, fried cauliflower and eggplant, tahini for dipping, as
well as your choice of fresh tabouli or
fatoush, hand-cut fries or rice, pita, and
two meats from a selection of chicken,
kafta, lamb, or beef.
Hana explains, “Lebanese food is
meant to be shared and enjoyed with
your family.” The Feast allows just
that. Rather than a table ordering individual dishes and keeping them separate, this selection allows a number
of people to try a variety of foods that
complement one another. Forks reaching across the table to grab a bit of this
or that are expected, and share plates
are provided. “There’s a lot of history
behind it. It’s not just a meal; there’s
culture behind it,” Hana says.
And French fries are a part of that
heritage, though, as Hana notes, “
People are surprised when they come in
here and see fries, but Lebanese people
put fries in everything.” Lebanese food
is very fresh and not spicy, a fact that
may surprise some people.
“A lot of customers come in requesting dishes that they grew up with,
things that they haven’t had in forty
years, that their grandmothers used to
make. The best compliment we can get
is it tastes like grandmother’s cooking,”
says Hana. She and her mother also
love introducing people who’ve never eaten the cuisine to the flavors and
While the family behind 755 wants
Nick Guy is an editor for Wirecutter and
to share its culture with guests, an
enjoyable meal is the ultimate goal.
Whether that be in the form of a ham-
burger, fish fry, chicken parmigiana, or
falafel, they’re going to share tasty food
with a generous side of Lebanese hos-
writes for other publications.