Old City Cafe & Grill first opened its doors in 2012, and in 2014 was honored by the Munchmobile as being “Top Dog” when it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine in NJ. The voters cited the restaurant’s silky smooth babaganoush, flaky and tasty meat and cheese arrayes, and stellar desserts (especially the essmalieh). The restaurant’s success is no surprise, as owner Rafi Namroud is originally from Lebanon and worked there in the service industry for a number of years. Upon moving to Cranford, Rafi knew that he wanted to open a restaurant close to where he lives with his family. Rafi attributes a big part of the restaurant’s success to hard work and homemade, high-quality food.
When the doors to Old City first opened, Rafi found that he needed to educate customers on what Middle Eastern and Lebanese cuisine was. The waiters would take time describing the dishes and told the customers not to be intimidated by unfamiliar names. Rafi used his mother’s recipes and had a chef who he trusted – he knew it was just a matter of people becoming comfortable with the cuisine. In the four years since opening, Rafi has a number of loyal customers and he can point to dishes on the menu that are customer favorites. The Old City mix for 2 (a variety of grilled kebabs) is a big hit, as are the salads, dips, sharma, and the restaurant’s homemade desserts.
Rafi makes a real effort to give customers the best possible experience. He occasionally cooks, but can usually be found throughout the restaurant doing quality control, insuring everything is up to his standards. Rafi also gives back to the Cranford community whenever possible. One year he gave a cooking class at Hillside School, teaching the students how to make one of his favorite Middle Eastern desserts, baklawa. Rafi’s passion for food is evident in every meal customers enjoy at his restaurant, and we hope you agree how lucky we are that Old City Cafe & Grill calls Cranford home.