Moona or Mouneh, slang for the Arabic word meaning “storing” or “pantry,” is a cozy 30 seat Arabic-inspired fine-casual restaurant focusing on the best pantry/mouneh items behind your food.
The spices, spice blends, olive oil, olives, tahini, different types of molasses, and other ingredients are what our concept is about. It’s about sourcing and making the best pantry items that are behind making your food shine.
You’ll find things like brussels sprouts in the Fall and Winter with tahini, pine nuts, pomegranates, and coriander. In the summer you’ll find grilled squid salad with toasted almonds, lacinato kale, za’atar shallots, feta, lemon, olive oil. We like to play with some of our local seasonal produce and if we put anything authentic on the menu like hummus, baba, or falafel we will be sure to make it some of the best you’ve ever had.
With a modern, rustic interior finished off with Mediterranean accents, the restaurant boasts a 10 seat bar and an intimate 20 seat dining room. Reminiscent of Arabic design, colors of bright blues, greens and whites are used throughout the space and are complemented by modern touches that include exposed brick and pipes, copper accents and mosaic tiling.
To accompany the highly evolving, seasonal menu, Moona’s bar will feature carefully curated array of cocktails as well as wine and craft beer lists. Additionally, house-made spice blends, jams, pickles and preserves are available for purchase.
With over 20 years’ experience in Boston’s restaurant industry, Mohamad El Zein opened his second restaurant Moona, in 2016 in Cambridge, MA’s Inman Square.
Originally from Lebanon, but born in Abu Dhabi, UAE Mohamad was exposed to many cuisines from South East Asia, Persian, Middle Eastern, European, African, and American. After graduating he moved to the United States to study finance and during his freshman year of college he discovered a passion for hospitality while working at a French bistro.
Mohamad got his start in the industry at Aquitaine Bar a vin Bistro in Boston’s South End where he worked in between classes to offset the tuition costs. During his time at Aquitaine he learned to appreciate the true art of cooking, the critical importance of high service standards and acquired a vast knowledge of the wine and beverage program. El Zein left Aquitaine in 2002 and became the food & beverage manager of Blu, a fine dining restaurant in The Ritz Carlton, where he worked alongside James Beard Award-winning chef Jody Adams. In 2003 Mohamad joined Masa Restaurant as a general manager, and then ultimately director of operations and co-owner of two locations. At Masa he was able to hone in on his true passion for creating and operating restaurants, growing Masa into a multi-unit business, and it was only a matter of time before El Zein took that creative energy and sought to open his own concept, Moona, in Cambridge’s Inman Square in 2016. Inspired by the food of his childhood, Moona, slang for the Arabic word meaning “storing” or “pantry,” is a 30 seat Eastern Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that specializes in hot and cold mezzas (small plates). The concept pays tribute to the impact that the pantry has had on food, especially in the remote villages of the Middle East, and each dish incorporates Moona made pantry items or sourced pantry items from credible local and global sources. When he’s not running the restaurants, El Zein dedicates much of his time to raising his kids Noora and Omar, and spending time with his wife and family, working out, fishing, snowboarding, hiking, and listening to music.
Born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria Vesko studied ancient history at Sofia University. His first job in the culinary field was at a Pizza restaurant named Krivoto in Sofia. In 2006 Vesko left Bulgaria for Cyprus to expand his culinary career. Starting out in Larnaca, Cyprus his first job was at Varoshiotis sea food restaurant working on cold mezzas and desserts. After spending a year in Cyprus, Vesko then made his big leap to the United States. His first landing was in Nantucket in 2007. His first job was at American Seasons Restaurant working under Chef Michael Lascola where he quckly was promoted from prep to a line cook. While there Vesko also worked at Alice’s restaurant under Richard Bailey focusing on Baking breads and making desserts.
His wife’s ambition for higher education brought them to Boston in 2009 where he started as a prep cook at Brickhouse Pizza and grill, but quickly rises to line cook, Sous-Chef and Manager in the following years. His love of baking desserts and breads led him to start as a baker and soon after as a pastry chef assistant at Bistro du Midi with Chef Robert Sisca; Sel de la Terre (baker and pastry Chef assistant) - Chef Jiho Kim respectively.
Vesko’s endeavor for knowledge, skills and struggle for more experience and learning from the best led him to stage in Menton (Barbara Lynch) under pastry Chef Giselle Miller as her pastry assistant and her right hand.
In 2016 Vesko started at Moona as a prep and line cook. After noticing Vesko’s baking and dessert talents he made his way up the ladder as the Catering and Pastry Chef. Vesko has been at Moona from the start and has worked his way up to Chef de Cuisine.
“I Love my team! Although, my motto is work hard then play hard, I still love to always lead by example.
My team is my family, and the mutual respect among us is one of the most important things. Everything else is teachable.
The three most important lessons that my great teachers and highly talented Chefs, I have worked with taught me are:
1. High quality, fresh products matter.
2. Details matter.
3. Stay positive while expanding your imagination and knowledge.
Everything is possible if you put your head to it, work hard and smart.
Cooking is a fine craft, science and art simultaneously. And I love every little bit of it and all.”
Love spending time with my wife, cooking & science, baking, pastries, salsa dancing, and reading.