Damascus Mediterranean Cuisine | Behind the Food

It’s no exaggeration to call Damascus Mediterranean Cuisine a family operation. Sanaa Aboulaban, a Syrian woman who’d been cooking professionally in Brooklyn, New York, had yearned to have her own restaurant for 30 years and found it at Damascus, which opened in July at 4469 Hills and Dales Road NW in Jackson Township.

It’s no exaggeration to call Damascus Mediterranean Cuisine a family operation.

Sanaa Aboulaban, a Syrian woman who’d been cooking professionally in Brooklyn, New York, had yearned to have her own restaurant for 30 years and found it at Damascus, which opened in July at 4469 Hills and Dales Road NW in Jackson Township. She and her adult daughters, Suzan and Razan, run the restaurant together; there are no other employees.

While Damascus is closed on Sundays, “We never take a day off,” Razan said.

The cuisine at Damascus is Syrian. The menu includes hummus, baba ghannouj, lentil soup, tabbouleh, kibbeh, grape leaves, falafel, chicken shawarma and kabobs of beef, lamb and chicken, and baklava. Portions are generous, and flavors are vibrant.

I talked with Razan—talkative and funny—who takes the orders her mother and sister make to order in the kitchen.

Q. You pride yourself on freshness here. Tell me about that.
A.
“Everything is made here and made daily—the soups, baba ghannouj, hummus. Desserts are made here. The meat is cooked to order, how you like it. We come in extra early to make everything. Mom cleans the grill every single day.”

Q. What is most popular on the menu?
A.
“The kibbeh. Mom will make two trays of it, and it will be gone. The tabbouleh and the shawarma are very popular, too.”

Q. Do people who come in seem familiar with this style of food?
A.
“Some people come here because they love this type of food. But we’ve had first-timers who didn’t know anything. With one group, I spent 15 minutes explaining what everything is, what the ingredients are, what it tastes like. And they loved it. We were surprised the next day when they came back. We have this one young customer who comes in all the time. He’s like our adopted son.”

Q. I can tell from your accent that you’re from Brooklyn. How did you and your mother and sister happen to open a restaurant in Canton, Ohio?
A.
“Suzan was already living here, and she found the spot. Mom had told her, ‘If you find something, we’ll give it a try.’ She found this place, we came here and we fell in love with it. Mom had been cooking for other people for 30 years. It has always been her dream to have her own place.”

Damascus Mediterranean Cuisine: 4469 Hills and Dales Rd. NW, Jackson Township. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 234-360-8005.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass