When you walk off the streets of Downtown Long Beach and into Ammatoli, you’re transported into a warm, inviting space straight out of the Levant.
Chef Dima Habibeh hails from Amman, Jordan, which is known for being built on seven hills (“toli” is derived from the Latin word for “hill”). Thus, the name “Ammatoli” was born. Drawing from her rich culture, Ammatoli is meant to feel like you’ve been invited to Chef Habibeh’s home for dinner. When you pull up a chair at the Long Beach dining destination, you won’t be disappointed!
We like to try a little of a lot and Ammatoli’s mezzas are perfect for that, offering a wide variety of dips and Mediterranean favorites like grilled halloumi and falafel. We selected the roasted beet hummus, the Mutabbal and the Batata Harra. The earthy hummus is a beautiful pink color with a creamy texture and while the Mutabbal is similar to baba ganoush, made with fire-roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Both dips are the ideal consistency and full of fresh flavor. We scooped up both with the restaurant’s pillowy pita, which is made in house. The Batata Harra is crafted with spicy and crispy potatoes, cilantro and roasted chili sauce; you’ll want to keep the whole bowl for yourself!
For our entree, Chef Habibeh suggested the traditional musakhan, which is half a rotisserie chicken, caramelized onions, extra virgin olive oil, sumac, toasted almonds and pine nuts on top of Ammatoli’s freshly baked bread, paired with cucumber and yogurt dip on the side. This masterpiece was met with wide eyes and awestruck faces as our server set the large gold plate on the table. This special dish is different than anything we’ve ever eaten before–and that’s saying something.
To end our exploration of the Middle East, we were treated to a few more exotic flavors by way of the dessert menu. We ordered knafeh, which is made with a shredded dough called kataifi, filled with white cheese and sprinkled with pistachios. It’s served with a tiny pitcher of orange blossom syrup to pour on top. After you allow the sweet and tart flavors to soak in, you’re treated to a medley of unique textures and flavors. We also enjoyed a cup of Turkish coffee, which is a special blend made specifically for Ammatoli that is infused with cardamom.
Ammatoli has a large wine list and a small variety of beer available. In addition to the usual suspects from France, Italy and California, Ammatoli offers Lebanese wine. Having never tried wine from Lebanon, we took advantage of the new opportunity. We tried Château Kefraya Blanc de Blancs and Massaya Blend Blanc, both from the Bekaa Valley. We enjoyed both, along with fully immersing ourselves in the elegant experience Ammatoli has to offer.
Ammatoli is open Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about Ammatoli, visit www.ammatoli.com.
285 E. Third St.
Long Beach, CA 90802