Dining Out


Levantine Cuisine, Culture, and Design

dishes spread on a table at Ammoora
Written by Julekha Dash

Swinging open the doors to Ammoora in Baltimore’s splashy Ritz-Carlton Residences feels like a journey to a luxurious home in the Middle East, full of rose-colored banquettes and tables sparkling with inlaid mother-of-pearl. A warm evening calls for a meal of mezze, grilled shrimp, and chicken kabobs on the serene, open-air courtyard, lined with black-and-white-striped tiles.

“We wanted it to feel like an extension of the homes here, as well for guests to be able to come in and enjoy,” says the restaurant’s chief marketing officer, Markie Britton, who cofounded the restaurant with the Syrian-born owner, Jay Salkini.

The waterfront restaurant opened in January 2023 following a year of construction, filling a vacancy not just in real estate but in the city’s food offerings, which was missing a fine-dining restaurant showcasing foods from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and other regions in the Levant. “Throughout the whole space, we really tried to embrace the diversity of Levantine fare.”

Ammoora Bayti Lounge

Executive chef Dima Al-Chaar, a finalist in Top Chef Middle East (an Arabic version of the Bravo reality show), showcases classic dishes from the region with modern interpretations. Guests will recognize falafel, hummus, and shawarma but might not have had freekeh, a nutty, roasted grain, or a hummus made with beets.

Of course, in Maryland, seafood is never neglected, with saffron-flavored shrimp and branzino with lemon couscous pilaf among the offerings. Middle Eastern flavors accent the cocktails and spirit-free drinks, which include an old fashioned infused with date and cardamom while pomegranate punches up a coconut cream and rose mocktail.

Then there are the many satisfying meat-free dishes, which make up more than half the menu items and honor the Levant’s agricultural abundance, like the za’atar honey burrata. This cold mezze item is a creamy dish best enjoyed slathered on the generous supply of warm pita bread that comes fresh out of the kitchen. “The flavors are just exponential,” Britton says of the dish. “And it really kind of brings together the East and the West.”

Can’t Miss at Ammoora

Short-Rib Freekeh

Ammoora Mezza on a table

This has been a beloved staple on Ammoora’s menu since the opening and is a very traditional Damascene dish made with freekeh, a green durum wheat grain commonly used in soups, stews, and pilafs.

Za’atar Honey Burrata

The appeal of this dish is the blend of sweet and savory flavors with a dash of the Middle Eastern spice blend, crunchy pistachios, and a drizzle of citrus honey. Dried crushed rose petals give it a pop of color that matches the decor.

Cauliflower Shawarma

Roasted cauliflower steaks are enveloped in a shawarma spice blend and adorned with thick yogurt and tahini and drizzled with herb-infused oil. Pomegranate seeds and a lemon vinaigrette add a sweet-and-sour touch.

Beqaa to the Highlands

A drink that blends Eastern and Western flavors, this cocktail features scotch, orange blossom honey, lemon, chamomile, and arak, an anise-flavored Levantine spirit.

about this restaurant

  • Chef

    Dima Al-Chaar

  • Address

    751 Key Highway
    Baltimore, Maryland

    • Levantine

    • Fine Dining

The Wine Lover Issue


1 year for only $24.99

1 year
for only $24.99

Subscribe and Save 72%!

Suscribe Now
The Travel Issue