Inspired by the street food vendors of the Middle East, Farid Salloum, the chef and owner of Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen in South Baltimore, is opening a new concept in R. House this fall. ARBA’s authenticity is derived from its fusion of Old World and new-age Mediterranean foods.
Meaning “four” in Arabic, ARBA’s focused menu will feature classics like house-made falafel, shawarma, and hummus, alongside creative Middle Eastern fare like grilled octopus salad, kefta kabob rolls, and eggplant fries.
“The idea for ARBA came from a visit to the ‘old country’ with my parents many years ago,” Salloum says. “As we walked the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets, we were overwhelmed by the incredible smells and tastes the Middle East is famous for, it hit me. For thousands of years, street vendors have provided authentic, time-tested, and delicious fare for people on the streets of Jerusalem, Cairo, Beirut—all over the region. This is why I am opening ARBA: to serve the very best Mediterranean street food to the people of Baltimore with original flavors and aromas evocative of the old country.”
“As a tribute to my family, I want to carry out the traditions of my father and mother, who brought with them from the Middle East their passion and hope, and their love for and intimacy with Mediterranean food,” he adds.
Located on the first floor of a 50,000-square-foot historic automobile showroom and garage in Remington, Seawall Development’s $12 million food and drink emporium, R. House, will be a launch pad for 10 of Baltimore’s most exciting chefs and their culinary concepts.
With a degree in chemical engineering, an MBA in marketing, and a management career spanning two decades, Farid Salloum left corporate America in 2008 to leverage his skills and experiences with the food service industry. With a modest home equity line of credit, he opened Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen, a 20-seat restaurant in South Baltimore.
Launched during an unforgiving economic time, it was fortunate that the former CMO turned CFO—that’s Chief Falafel Officer—was no stranger to the restaurant industry. At the age of 10 and through high school he worked in and helped run his dad’s (a.k.a. Baba, which means father in Arabic) café in Syracuse, New York. When he left the computer industry, he became a server at Lebanese Taverna to better understand the customer experience, prior to opening Baba’s Kitchen. Salloum has made it his business to understand what his customers want, and produce the freshest, scratch-made, affordable Middle Eastern fare in the neighborhood. Nearly eight years later, his restaurant is thriving, and his reputation as a chef is remarkable.