Lebanese chef Philippe Massoud is typically busy churning out mezze platters (mouthwatering assortments of hummus, baba ghanoush and the like) at his Flatiron restaurant, ilili, which he opened in 2006. TT's staff is a fan of his elevated Middle Eastern bites, such as fluke carpaccio (with Aleppo pepper and fennel pollen) and duck shawarma (with fig jam and whipped garlic).
Clearly Massoud stays busy in kitchen. But when he has a spare minute, he can be found eating his way around the streets near Madison Square Park.
We caught up with him and got the quick rundown on his favorite spots—for everything from pho to pasta—and found out why he cooks his own breakfast.
Inside The Nomad Bar | Photo: Tasting Table
Coffee: Stumptown at the Ace
Philippe's order: He keeps it simple and to the point with a double espresso ($6).
Why he loves it: "It gets the engine running straight out of the gate."
Breakfast: ilili (his home turf)
Philippe's order: Since he prefers duck eggs for breakfast, he makes his own—whipping them with labneh, Aleppo pepper and salt, cooking them in a large crepe pan, then wrapping them in thin pita bread and topping it all with more labneh and Aleppo pepper and a scattering of scallions.
Why he loves it: "The egg-and-labneh combination is magical. A little onion makes the flavor just right."
Lunch: Luu's Baguette
Philippe's order: Depending on the day, it's either a warm bowl of beef rib eye pho ($8) or the roast pork bun ($1.50).
Why he loves it: "Having lived in Virginia, which has a large Vietnamese community, this is a gem to find. It is the best Vietnamese food I've had in the city."
Quick Bite: L&W Oyster Co.
Philippe's order: Oysters, obviously.
Why he loves it: "Because oysters! Mystic oysters by Karen Rivara in particular."
Philippe's order: The eggy, cheesy gramigna alla carbonara pasta. Because what could go wrong with that?
Why he loves it: "It's my spot for a pasta fix. The service and food are always consistent."
Drinks: The NoMad Bar
Philippe's order: He opts for tequila, ordering a double Don Julio Silver with a cucumber and squeeze of lime.
Why he loves it: "I'm a tequila addict. It is the only worthy buzz."
Wise words, Philippe, wise words.
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