WHO’S IN CHARGE Building a restaurant is never simple. After more than two years under construction, Mambo’s Kitchen & Bar at Nantasket Beach has finally opened. That’s a relief for owner-operator Anthony Ghosn, 33, who had hoped to open last summer.
“We had a lot of surprises during construction, down to the smallest thing,” said Ghosn, who has worked in restaurants and/or construction since graduating from Boston College.
Both he and co-owner Rabih Habchy grew up around family restaurants and have each owned various businesses over the last 10 years. Habchy still does (he owns a gas station), and Ghosn is at Mambo’s full time as its chef-owner-operator running the kitchen and overseeing everything else.
THE LOCALE The partners snagged themselves a terrific spot at Nantasket Beach just across from the water. The property originally included a bit of undeveloped land and a derelict building on Nantasket Avenue, across from the Red Parrot.
After tearing down the building, the partners shoehorned an entirely new structure into the hillside as snugly as an oven fits into kitchen cabinets. The 40-seat main dining room and bar has a beachy-casual, yet solid, feel with its heavy wooden beams, stone floors, and wood ceiling.
Two large accordion windows span the front of the dining room and open completely so sitting inside is a lot like sitting outside. And for a better view of the ocean, there’s a great 60-seat rooftop patio. Or, there should be by the time you read this: The partners are waiting on a final inspection of the restaurant’s wheelchair lift. In winter, without the rooftop, the restaurant will shrink to a perfect size.
Mambo’s was worth the wait: It’s a great new year-round kitchen and bar as well as a new piece of restaurant real estate for the small seaside town of Hull.
ON THE MENU On a nice day, it feels real good to sit at Mambo’s and grab a meal. It’s that kind of place. And, the kitchen obliges nicely, offering a dozen or so very good pizzas, creative sandwiches on homemade bread, a sampling of appetizers, big salads, burgers, and more.
The house-baked wraps Ghosn is making for Mambo’s sandwiches are reason enough to go there. They’re a wonderful cross between Syrian bread and pizza dough, but better. I’ve had them with several sandwiches in the past few weeks, and like them more each time, and the fillings, too.
I’d order all of these again: the Mediterranean hummus sandwich ($8); the Bluefin (tuna salad) sandwich ($8); the Greco grilled chicken sandwich ($9.50); and the grilled veggie monster with provolone cheese ($8).
The pizza list is long and they all come in two sizes. A sweet balsamic drizzle atop the Lighthouse pizza ($12/$17) is a delicious surprise; the old-fashioned cheese pizza ($8.50/$12.50) perfectly satisfying; and the Gunrock ($12/$17) the best of the three. It has long strips of sweet and hot peppers, tiny bites of sausage, and fluffy hunks of ricotta cheese.
The calamari ($11) is beautifully done: Served with a homemade remoulade, they’re light and go ever so nicely with the thick and delicious fries ($4) in the salty air. The coconut shrimp ($10) are very coconutty, but done in such a light batter, they find their way to your mouth and melt there. The garden salad ($7) I had one night was a very large bowl of a much-appreciated blend of fresh, crispy romaine, mesclun, and iceberg lettuces. Ordered with the good, grilled chicken add-on ($3), it’s a hit at $10.
I don’t know how a restaurant can afford to charge so little, but I’m betting Ghosn does.
Mambo’s Kitchen & Bar, 269 Nantasket Ave., Hull, 781-474-0000.Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.