February 28, 2014
Started from the Bottom; Now, Samad is there
Samad moved to Boston as student. At the beginning, Samad worked at Dunkin Donuts as a cashier; “I never liked that job, my dream was much bigger than that; I quitted and went into the furniture business, operating an interior design firm on Newbury Street with my girlfriend Heike” Samad told me. In 2001, with the help of Heike whom a year later became his wife, Samad opened Tangierino (small three dark rooms in the basement providing smoking lounge and serving Moroccan tea). I read in The Boston Globe Newspaper that the couches in the smallest of Tangierino’s three rooms came straight out of Samad’s parents’ house in Casablanca. Back then,Tangierino was the only place in the Boston area (probably in the entire New England) where hookah and the great taste of Moroccan green tea with fresh mint leaves were available. One year later, they extended the three dark rooms Tangierino to become Tangierino, a rather terrific Moroccan restaurant of two floors in Charlestown, providing a unique dining experience with luxurious cuisine, smoking lounge, belly dancing shows and a very distinctive furniture and décor.
Starting with the complimentary appetizer of olives hotted up with HARISSA (the chili-based spice paste) and hummus on strips of " Moroccan bread”; it’s a flatbread, but white and sweet and rather dense, more like a biscotto than a pita. Samad chef’s cuisine consists of old world and new world cuisines for both appetizers and entrees; the old world cuisine is a traditional Moroccan style of cooking using Tagines and Moroccan spices. The Tagine is a two parts dish made entirely of clay, used for slow-cooking (two to three hours over low heat); the bottom has low sides with a ledge to put the cone shaped lid on. The lid is kept during the cooking process to keep the moisture inside the dish. “When you serve a Tagine; after you put it on the table, remove the lid for the guest and bring it back to the kitchen” the manager told me when I started working there as a busser. The Tagine cannot be considered Moroccan unless spices from Morocco such as Za’atar - dried high quality Moroccan thyme found in the mountains of the region - and Ras El Hanout - usually a blend of 25 spices - are being used. At Tangierino, all the traditional Moroccan entrees like Couscous, Merguez, Sicilian Eggplant, Sahara Shrimp, Lemony Chicken and Calamari are prepared using Tagines and Moroccan spices. On the other hand, the new world cuisine is internationally infused Moroccan cuisine using more modern cooking techniques and features a French flair. For example, Tangierino’s pizzas and Sashimi Kissed Tuna are new world cuisine dishes hence they are not being served on Tagines. Moroccan cuisine is not geared toward dessert at the end of a large meal, but Tangierino has designed desserts that work like cheese and chocolate cakes, the restaurant sticks to espresso and cappuccino. One more thing! I never knew that all Tangierino’s Lamb, beef and chicken are HALAL until I read it on the menu description. HALAL is when an animal is slaughtered and prepared according to the Islamic way.
Tangierino‘s attraction is not just about the unusual taste of food; it’s also about the finest and largest smoking lounge in New England with the best air make up system. The guests who don’t smoke go to the first floor while smokers go to the basement where the first floor’s menu is accessible in addition to the hookah (some people call it Shisha) - an oriental tobacco pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws the smoke through water contained in a bowl – and cigar lounge. In Tangierino, they use all different flavors of tobacco to make the hookah. The flavors go from the most frequently used flavor which is apple to peach to mint to cherry to banana… And the list is still long, and they have over dozens of types of cigars. The wine list is very interesting, with