The latest health-minded fast-casual chain to hit Manhattan just launched off of Union Square. Panorama Middle Eastern Grill is clearly aiming to become the Levantine Chipotle, and is hoping to succeed right across the street from where The Hummus & Pita Co. failed. Backed by a Canadian real-estate developer, the restaurant aims to open 15 locations around Greater New York in the next few years, starting with its first at 820 Broadway.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term Levantine cuisine (we’re talking about the food of Israel, Lebanon, Palestine and other surrounding countries), the assembly-line model will be familiar, so don’t freekah-out (sorry). You can order meals in the form of a box, a wrap, or a whole-wheat pita pocket; select a base of romaine, freekah, or rice; choose from a dozen fillings, like chickpeas, tzatziki, and hummus; throw in a protein like chicken shawarma, chicken shish, or doner kebab; and top it off with one of six sauces. (That’s right, the choices go beyond “white sauce / hot sauce.”) There are also grab-and-go items as well as “signatures” like French fries topped with chicken shawarma, garlic sauce and tahini.
The menu was shaped by culinary director Julien Iaconelli, formerly food operations manager at vegan fast-casual phenomenom by CHLOE. A press release touts his use of “charcoal-barbecued, free range, grass fed, and hormone/antibiotic free meats.”
The decor is much closer to by CHLOE than to the holes-in-the-wall where East Villages have traditionally gotten their falafel fixes (Mamoun’s, Rakka Cafe, etc.). You can even browse books curated by Panorama’s neighbor, Strand.
Panorama Middle Eastern Grill, 820 Broadway, at 12th Street.