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MAMA’S BOY

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How many restaurateurs say their mothers influenced their cooking?

Thousands.

But do any of those ingrates name their restaurants after dear old mom?

Here’s one: Refael Hasid. Hasid’s new place, Miriam, is named for his mother who, he says, "is a great cook." And he’s using some of her recipes on his menu.

Miriam, which Hasid opened July 1 on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, features Middle Eastern cuisine, but don’t come here expecting falafels. This is "upscale Middle Eastern," says Hasid, who also owns Hill Diner in Cobble Hill. "Upscale Middle Eastern" means you’ll fork up sole baked in tahini sauce; eggplant terrine, lightly anointed with truffle oil; and raw flounder marinated in spices and sliced thin for Middle Eastern "sashimi." Hasid’s fresh herb salad (at left) features baby octopus and marinated "adzuki" beans.

There are several Israeli wines on the 55-bottle international wine list, with many good pours falling into the $20-$32 range. Enjoy a glass with a dessert of cool, custardy panna cotta, flavored with rosewater and sprinkled with pistachios, or tahini mousse topped with halvah (a confection made from ground sesame seeds and honey).

Miriam has a warmer ambience than the cooler modern vibe of its predecessor, the Surreal Cafe. A tiled bar runs the length of the room, wooden tables seat 60 guests and Moroccan-style lamps cast patterns about the dining area. On weekend evenings, musicians play while a belly dancer shakes her stuff.

Mama would kvell.

Miriam (79 Fifth Ave. at Prospect Place) accepts American Express, Diner’s Club, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $11.50-$18. The restaurant serves dinner daily and brunch on weekends from 9 am to 3 pm. For more information, call (718) 622-2250.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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