Coming this weekend to the Presidio is a brand new Eastern Mediterranean restaurant from the talented opening chefs behind Noosh and the Mission District pop-up Istanbul Modern, and it's called Dalida.
The swanky Presidio spot on the Main Parade Lawn that was formerly home to Traci Des Jardins's restaurant The Commissary will come alive again Friday, June 30, as Dalida, the splashy new project from married chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz. The pair has some high-end restaurant experience under their belt as well their acclaimed but short-lived Pac Heights spot Noosh, and with Dalida, they will be bringing their unique take on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines to a — hopefully — new and eager audience.
"When we were looking for a space for this restaurant, we knew that we wanted to be integrated into the local environment,” says Laura Ozyilmaz. "From chatting with the owners of other nearby businesses, to picking fresh flowers from the community garden, we feel a profound sense of belonging in this beautiful location."
The couple's pop-up Istanbul Modern — not to be confused with the Istanbul Modern museum that just opened in Istanbul this month, in a new building designed by Renzo Piano — got its start in 2016, not long after the Ozyilmazes moved to San Francisco after stints in New York. Both had full-time jobs in Michelin-starred kitchens — Sayat at Mourad and Laura at Saison — but they decided to take zero time off and run the pop-up on the side, out of a space on Alabama Street that had been home to The Tradesman.
Noosh came along in 2018, garnered the Ozyilmazes Rising Star status from the Chronicle in 2019, and then promptly closed amid a nasty legal dispute with their investor in late 2019. At least they skirted the pandemic without knowing it!
The Mexican-born Laura and Turkish-born Sayat describe their Eastern Mediterranean cuisine on the Istanbul Modern website thusly: "It's the Bosphorus, Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean; Mesopotamia, Balkans, Anatolia, Caucasus, North Africa, and Persia. It's the palace and the countryside, the business capital and the cultural capital. It's a little Turkish, a little Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Arabic and Persian." And, they added, "Our food transcends arbitrary designations such as borders, religions and ethnicities."
The menu at Dalida is an eclectic mix, featuring things like su borek, the lasagna-like Turkish pastry here made with Sonoma cheeses and a wine sauce; a version of Kayseri manti, which are butter-roasted Turkish lamb dumplings in a tomato sauce with garlic yogurt; a version of the Persian crisped-rice dish tahdig but with sea urchin, trout roe, and preserved yuzu on top; and an arayes burger, which is a ground-beef-stuffed pita that's grilled in the pita, served with a special sauce and chives.
There are also intriguing starters on offer like a dish of thinly slice octopus servied with a pork sujuk sauce and olive-caper dressing, and a dish of traditional dips with fresh pita like hummus and muhammara.
Entrees include an Aleppo-style half-chicken served with a tarragon yogurt sauce; and a large-format 12-hour lamb shoulder tandoor, served with braised chickpeas, which serves two to four people.
The beverage program reflects the origins of the food, and was designed by Bar Director Evan Williams (Hard Water, Bar Agricole, Beehive). It will feature cocktails that incorporate local aromatics along with the spices, yogurts, and preserved fruits of the Mediterranean.
The wine list focuses on small-production wines in unusual styles, including things like a sparkling rosé from Portugal's Bairrada region made from
the little-known Baga and Bical grape varietals.
See the full dinner menu below. Initial hours will be 5 to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday, and the reservation books are open.
Dalida - 101 Montgomery Street in the Presidio - Opening June 30