For two chefs that had yet to (technically) run their own restaurant, brothers Eli and Max Sussman somehow managed to maintain an exceptionally high industry profile for years. In fact, while working their way up the ranks at popular NYC establishments (Eli at Mile End, Max at Roberta’s and The Cleveland), they impressively garnered not just one, but three cookbook deals, commencing with “This is A Cookbook” in 2012, and culminating with “Classic Recipes for Modern People” in 2015, currently ranked by Amazon under the category “Celebrities.”
The nearest they’d come to finally setting a stake in the ground was last fall, when they debuted a duo of pop-up concepts: Ed & Bev’s (a Detroit-style coney shop, situated in Berg’n), and the shawarma-serving Samesa, also in Berg’n, followed by Three’s Brewing. Which is why—considering their enduring omnipresence—it’s hard to believe the Sussmans only officially became business owners (in the strictest sense) precisely one week ago, with Samesa’s brick-and-mortar launch on Lorimer Street.
Despite their tenures at more traditional sit-down spots, the brothers have kept things committedly hyper-casual; there are a few counter seats for snacking on unwieldy items like “A Sandwich Odyssey”—a pita or platter of pickled eggs, lentils, and assorted dips like avocado hummus, carrot romesco and beets with sumac—although a refrigerator case of pre-packed spreads and salads, and plastic baggies stuffed with dried papaya and sugared chickpeas invites a grab-and-go.
That said, the sheer magnitude of the deep-set kitchen (which comically dwarfs the dining area some four or five times over), betrays Samesa’s ambition, sizzling cylinders of chicken shawarma swirl on a spit in the anterior of the cooking arena, a pita oven holds court in the second section, churning out pliable, char-speckled flatbreads multiple times a day, and the back room houses a massive smoker—left behind by previous tenant, Meat Hook Sandwich—which the Sussmans baptized during friends and family dinners, by roasting off whole goats.
After a protracted on-and-off relationship, congrats to the pair for finally committing to Brooklyn.
495 Lorimer St., Williamsburg
Photos by Sasha Turrentine