Egyptian street food is the perfect blend of Arab and North African influence. Fava beans replace chickpeas, bessara stands in from hummus and tahini is pronounced tahina. Recently opened in New York’s bustling Nolita district, Zooba has quickly become a unique player in the city’s daunting and at times saturated food scene. The new outpost offers up a focused menu of its national cuisine while paying homage to its hometown Cairo.
The chain’s refreshed brand identity was carefully conceived by celebrated graphic designer Jessica Walsh while it’s New York interior was designed by award-winning architect Ahmed El Husseiny, founder of Brooklyn-based creative agency AE SuperLab.
Situated on the corner of storied thoroughfares Kenmare Street and Cleveland Place, the spacious eatery joins the neighborhood with a facade mural that depicts a huge, roughly painted Arabic logo, designed by Walsh. This fresco distinguishes itself from the litany of painted walls nearby and yet integrates into the urban vernacular.
Walsh and El Husseiny devised this streetscape scheme based on their respective travels and childhoods spent in the Egyptian capital. Referencing its history while still being grounded in New York, this kitschy yet refined design scheme marries the best of both worlds.
This Cairo-meets-New York aesthetic carries through to the interior. As a focal point for the project, a clustered grid of ceiling-mounted, back-lit cut-out panels helps delineate the main three-sided counter. Glazed tiles and reflective surfaces help bounce this gleaming source of light throughout the rest of the space. Graphical elements can also be found lining the base of the bar structure.