Opened three years ago, the Mediterranean Market (7553 Pearl Rd., Middleburg Heights, 440-234-6600) offers a treasure trove of ethnic foods that serve a growing population of Middle Eastern, Greek and Indian natives living in Cleveland. But Lebanese owner George Karim (whose brother Fred was the original owner), is friendly and engaging with all customers regardless of origin. A quick conversation with him reveals both praise for his wife, who makes foods like hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouli, stuffed grape leaves and pickled radishes daily, as well as an eagerness to find common ground, a mannerism so pleasantly unique to Clevelanders. (“You’re Greek? The Annunciation on 14th Street is very close to my church! You want grape leaves with meat? We make them for you, anytime.”)
The store literally is packed with specialty foods, spices and ingredients. There are a full dozen varieties of olives, three different kinds of imported feta and Halal meats, including a variety of lamb products, from loin chops to liver to kidneys. Of course, there's also coarsely ground lamb should you wish to make your own kibbe. Chicken also is available, as is goat, which is gaining in popularity in the U.S. An impressive array of spices is adjacent to a selection of fresh produce.
The vast range of products is enticing and intriguing as you browse the packed shelves and refrigerator cases. From fresh, locally made laban (a pro-biotic buttermilk drink) to piles of fresh-baked pita (both Jasmine and Aladdin’s) to fresh phyllo dough (both thick and thin available) to 25-pound bags of rice, you can find just about any Middle Eastern, Indian or Greek specialty item. There are hundreds of cooking and baking ingredients, from bags of every imaginable type of dried beans and lentils to prunes, black and gold raisins and candied ginger. Even imported sweets, including sugar-free baklava.
The market also sells hot, fresh, made-to-order foods for takeout, including shwarma, falafel and gyro sandwiches.