Ever since I noticed the banner revealing that a Moroccan
restaurant was coming to town back in October, I was thrilled. The fact that
little information was available about it added to the intrigue. Now that it’s
about to open, I’m getting anxious to smell the aroma of regional spices
wafting from the locale and to sample and learn more about Moroccan cuisine. Argana
Restaurant & Bar will be opening at 325 North Main St. next week, with the
grand opening scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 21 and the eatery welcoming the
public the next day.
Argana is the creation of Moroccan-born Nordine and Soumia “Mia”
Achbania and will be their first restaurant.
Nordine has managed many restaurants, most recently Louie’s in
Cos Cob and Polpo in Greenwich, the latter for about 10 years. His wife Mia,
the head chef, designed the menu and developed the recipes. She will be cooking
with a Moroccan chef, known as Chef Ali, who is coming up from New York City
where he has worked at four different restaurants.
“I’m the one I just eat, I don’t cook,” said Nordine during a
telephone interview on Monday, Mar. 13. “I have been only in management.”
Nordine, in the restaurant business for 18 years, lived in Port
Chester for almost six years before moving to Greenwich.
“This is the first Moroccan restaurant we are opening, probably
not the last,” he said.
They decided on Moroccan food because “this area of Port Chester
and Westchester needs something different,” he said. “There are too many
Italian, French and Mexican restaurants. I have to come up with something
Since he and his wife are Moroccan, their Moroccan friends who
went to Polpo said they should open a Moroccan restaurant.
They chose 325 North Main St., the former location of nessa,
because, said Nordine, “there is not too many [Moroccan] locations around this
area, I know a lot of people in this area from Westchester and Greenwich and I’m
a local guy. So when we found nessa closed, we found it was a location easy to
switch to Moroccan atmosphere. It is in a good location on the main street.
There is a lot of traffic in this area, it is a great location to open a
They started doing renovations in October 2016. “We totally
changed the whole restaurant,” said Nordine. “It looks like now Moroccan
atmosphere. We bought handmade chandeliers from Morocco. We created one
Moroccan lounge in the back of the restaurant for private parties.”
His friend Doron Sabag, owner and builder/designer at Sound Beach
Partners in Stamford, did the renovations. “We demolished the bar and moved the
bar to the left side [of the restaurant] and [opened] the wall behind the bar
with a big French door to the patio,” said Nordine.
The patio was lovely when nessa occupied the space, always filled
with beautiful trees, plants and flowers, as I’m sure it will be now that
Argana has taken it over.
“Nordine and his wife are good friends of mine, so I am helping
them out,” said Sabag. “I’m helping them get it done.
Sabag raved about Mia’s cooking. “She is extremely talented and
amazingly passionate about Moroccan food,” he said. “Please encourage people to
“You’re going to love it,” said Nordine about the food. “It’s
like real, real Moroccan cuisine.” The traditional cooking pot from Morocco
called a tajine they imported through Canada.
I read that Moroccan food consists
of spiced, slow-cooked meat dishes simmered
in one magical pot: a tajine. The word refers to both the conical-shaped dish and the food
it, which is usually a blend of sweet and savory flavors.
Argana will also serve couscous,
the dish Morocco is most known for. In addition, “Morocco was occupied by
France, so there is a lot of infusion of French cuisine,” said Nordine. The
food has been influenced by Spain as well and “also Jewish cuisine has
evolved.” So expect a wide range of flavors.
As for any more specifics, we’ll
have to wait and see, but, with the opening set for next week, fortunately we
won’t be waiting long.