When Michael Solomonov was creating the award-winning and career-establishing Zahav restaurant in Society Hill, he was at the same time feeding a major crack addiction, according to confessions in the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
As he moves ahead with a planned assault on Rittenhouse Square, he has to square with his past: “Nobody expects somebody like me to be a recovering crackhead,” he told Frank Bruni of the NYT. “I felt I was holding back.”
The admission came the day before the grand opening of Dizen Goff, an all-hummus, walk-up eatery on Sansom Street at 17th. Like his Federal Donuts concept of a strictly limited menu (only doughnuts and chicken), Dizen Goff serves only hummus, in four varieties – with lamb, with grilled corn, with roasted pepper, and plain – as though his menu is a small paper bag he’s forced himself into as a challenge to break out creatively.
Immediately next door to Dizen Goff, he is completing the Sansom Street 1600 block trifecta with Abe Fisher, another concept that will serve food of the Jewish diaspora, except the Middle East. So, basically, everything but Zahav. The bar-restaurant is expected to open next month.
Dizen Goff is designed with minimal menu and maximal fun. The striped orange awning outside is complemented by a patchwork mirrored interior splashed with rock posters from Israel. There is a pair of turntables in the corner, along with a pile of classic rock on vinyl, providing the ambient, analog tunes.
One of the first customers of Dizen Goff, Sue Gordon, knows from past experience at Zahav what Solomonov can do with hummus, and now knows his drug history, too.
“I know that cocaine addiction is a big issue in the restaurant world, so I wasn’t surprised,” said Gordon before tucking into a bowl of hummus. “I think it’s great that he’s fighting it, and I wish him success.”