Though brothers Max and Eli Sussman have spent the majority of their careers apart—rumple-haired Max moved from Roberta’s to Manhattan for a year-long stint at The Cleveland, while lanky, bearded Eli committed to an admirably long run at Mile End—the pair has appeared inexorably intertwined, frequently joining forces for pop-ups, and often coupling up in order to co-author cookbooks.
But as far as running a restaurant goes, they’ve never officially been in business together, until now. And it seems they’re making up for lost time with not just one, but two shared projects—both of them in Brooklyn’s brick-and-mortar Smorgasburg offshoot, Berg’n. Originally envisioned as a standalone spot in Manhattan, Samesa (a blend of family initials) pays homage to the Middle Eastern cuisine they grew up with, focusing on oven-baked pita cones of spit-roasted chicken shawarma; yogurt-dressed salads tagged with sunflower seeds and za’atar; and veggie-centric sides, including an assertively scarlet beet hummus, and substantial lentil-pistachio dip with a downy shroud of sprouts.
It’s been joined in short order by a second endeavor, Ed & Bev’s, which similarly exploits the Sussman’s formative childhood food memories, by showcasing dishes from their hometown of Detroit. Inspired by the Motor City’s plethora of Greek-style diners, serving both chili-topped hot dogs and flaming saganaki (a curious mishmash birthed a century ago by a Greek immigrant, whose trek to the Midwest involved a layover in Coney Island), the Sussman’s peddle beef franks gobbed with brisket and chopped onion, flaky diamonds of spinach pie, and butter-yellow cups of avgolemono—a rice-thickened chicken soup enlivened by lemon.
Owing to separate but equally impressive showings on Brooklyn’s restaurant circuit, Max and Eli are practically household names. But with their duo of new, wholly personal ventures, it looks like the Sussman brothers have finally come home.