This week’s Womply Merchant Spotlight is on Levante’s. Levante’s is one of DC’s finest Mediterranean restaurants. It is located in Dupont Circle and has an extensive menu featuring traditional dishes from Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and Israel. With its spacious interior and relaxed environment, Levante’s is a great place to dine. Items such as Moussaka, Lamb Guvec, and a Kofte sandwich are some of the many dishes that leave our mouths watering.
Levante’s also serves Turkish pides, which are sort of like Turkish pizzas, with your choice of filling. If you order one at Levante’s, you can choose fillings such as chicken, lamb, sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage), and many others. We think is a great traditional dish that everyone should go in and try.
In addition to Levante’s wonderful dinner menu, the restaurant also has an Open Buffet Brunch every Sunday from 11am-3:30pm. If that doesn’t convince you to visit, we don’t know what will. Oh, wait, maybe Levante’s comprehensive wine list will do the trick. Regardless of what part of Levante’s you are intrigued by, we think the restaurant has an amazing atmosphere and menu, and we encourage you to visit and see for yourself.
Womply got to sit down with the Makhmad Aliev, the Owner and General Manager of Levante’s. It was really exciting learning about the history of the restaurant and the origin of some of its most popular dishes. We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did!
Womply’s Interview with Levante’s
What is your name and title?
Makhmad Aliev, Owner and General Manager
Why did you decide to start Levante’s?
Levante’s [is a chain that originally] started in Europe. There are about 8 or 9 of them in Vienna, Austria, and since they were so successful the original owner opened up two more locations in the United States. I joined Levante’s in 2002 and I’ve enjoyed working here ever since.
Can you tell us a little more about your menu and new changes about the restaurant?
The dishes we serve here aren’t limited to Mediterranean cuisine. We specialize in Turkish, Greek, Lebanese, and Israeli cuisine as well. Levante’s is also introducing some new items for our summer menu including appetizers. Also, for the first time in many years, we have pizzas in this restaurant. They are called pides which it a Turkish version of pizza without the tomato sauce. It’s the best pizza I’ve tasted.
Our latest project is getting a retractable awning on our new patio. It is exciting so next time you stop by make sure to ask for our special summer menu and take a seat on the patio. We’ll also have seasonal specials, so in the fall the menu will change again. We are also changing our happy hours from 4-7pm to 4-8pm.
What is your favorite night of the week here and why?
Fridays. Fridays are busier, we see more people, and it also makes you feel like the weekend has finally arrived!
What was the best experience you’ve had with a customer?
The best experience I’ve had with a customer is when this woman came into the restaurant. She was sitting alone and stated that she only wanted to speak with the manager. I went over and she handed an envelope to me. She told me to open it, so I opened the envelope and it was from our European chain! She loves our food here but once she had made a trip to Vienna, and she noticed that one of the restaurants there said Levante’s as well. She thought she was seeing things. Then she went in and saw that the menu was the same as ours. After her trip is when she came back here [to Levante’s in DC]. The restaurant in Europe had written us a letter saying to take care of her. She was so nice, and it was such a fun experience.
Personally, what is your favorite Mediterranean dish to eat?
There is a dish in armenia that i often eat called adana. Adana is a name taken from a city in located in the south eastern part of Turkey. The dish is made up of a skewer of ground lamb that’s been seasoned with spices and then served on pita bread.
Care to share a tip on how to run a successful restaurant with us?
It’s not just about making money, it’s also about wanting to make sure your customers gets the best service and serving them the best food. If I see that a customer is not truly happy with her meal, I will make sure I change that and serve her something that she will enjoy so she leaves happy. I also like to personally go to the tables and talk to customers sometimes to see how everything is going. Impeccable customer service is very important, and I look forward to the next time they come in and shake my hand. Customer service is one of the priorities in the restaurant business, but food is number one. You may have good or bad customer service but if they like the food, there’s a good chance they will come back.
I’m here 7 days a week. Sometimes people ask me how I handle it, and I tell them that it just doesn’t feel like work. This is something that I’ve adapted to and now it’s a part of my life. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. It’s also something that keeps me really positive about running a business. In 1998, the first time Levante’s was opened in the United States, and it was one of the most popular international food restaurants in the DC area. Of course, things have changed since then but we have never deviated from our basic ideology of maintaining repeat customers and great food.
Levante’s is located at 1320 19th St. NW in Washington, DC
A special thanks to Makhmad for taking the time to chat with us!