Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tunisian, Italian cuisines collide at new bistro



Tunisian, Italian cuisines collide at new bistro

The restaurant’s Tunisian-style tuna steak.
The restaurant’s Tunisian-style tuna steak. Athena Zelandonii

Tunisian, Italian cuisines collide at new bistro

“Everything is a mix,” says 29-year-old Tunisian-American Aymen Ghali who, along with a trio of Italians, opened new bistro Mestizo last week in the capital’s Boeung Trabek neighbourhood.

The concept of the mestizo, a sometimes pejorative Spanish word to describe a man of mixed race, defines the menu that integrates food traditions from the Middle East to Latin America.

“These cultures, they’re connected with each other through food. You see mixing from the Mediterranean to the Middle East to Latin America,” says Ghali.

Open in the evenings with plans to expand to lunchtime hours in the coming months, the open-air locale is set in a garden with arching trees and framed by palm bushes.

A tall wooden bar is surrounded by couch and table-seating options and a small stage is built into a corner. The crowd is a mix of dreadlocks and suits, expats and locals.

“We’re going to do lots of events,” says Ghali, whose contributions to the menu last week were homemade hummus ($4), Tunisian-style tuna steak ($6) and Meshuia served with an egg and toasted flatbread chips ($4).

Appropriately, Mestizo’s dining is al fresco.
Appropriately, Mestizo’s dining is al fresco. Athena Zelandonii

“In Tunisia we call [Meshuia] a salad but it’s a dip of roasted garlic, eggplant, tomato and olive oil,” Ghali explains. “You don’t see that much of it in Cambodia,” he says with a laugh.

Siblings Martina and Roberto Traina from Palermo, Italy, conceived Mestizo with family friend and fellow Italian Giampaolo Chiarion, 56, and Ghali a year ago. Martina, 29, is in charge of the kitchen, Roberto, 36, takes orders at the bar.

“There will be fixtures on the menu, but we will have things that continuously change, next week I will be adding pastas and desserts, for example,” she said.

On the menu last week was the Sicilian meat-and-cheese filled fried rice ball specialty Arancine ($2). Being in Cambodia, however, adds to the hybrid theme. “We had to do it with a local rice variety,” Traina said.

“The idea is not to be a tapas bar, but something more recherché [exotic],” she added.

Mestizo is located at #114 Street 95. The restaurant is open Monday to Sunday from 6pm until 12am. Tel: 085 502 779.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the