Hummus at Petra Grill could be topped with grilled lamb...

Hummus at Petra Grill could be topped with grilled lamb and garnished with toasted almonds, olive oil and tangy red sumac. Credit: Daniel Brennan

A year and a half after it opened in Carle Place, Petra Grill has closed.

Long Island boasts scores of restaurants serving “Middle Eastern” menus that are an amorphous blend of Levantine, Arabic and Greek influences; Petra Grill’s was rooted in the refined cuisine of the Al-Hijazin family’s native Jordan. It earned 2½ stars from Newsday and was one of our top-rated Mediterranean restaurants.

Nadia Al-Hijazin cited a lack of business, particularly foot traffic, for the restaurant’s closure.

Nadia and her husband, Mansour, operated The Grill at Roosevelt Field mall from 1993 to 2014, before the food court’s transformation into a “dining district.” Mansour was the driving force behind Petra Grill, and his vision was ambitious: It took him a year to transform the former gym into an 130-seat restaurant that served not only Jordanian food, but a smattering of American and Italian as well. After he died in October, 2018, Nadia, her daughters and their staff soldiered on but, she said, “it was never the same without Mansour.”

I wonder if even Mansour could have overcome the location which, though centrally located (on Old Country Road just across from The Mall at The Source) had no foot traffic. And the vast space, encompassing three dining areas and a bar, was at odds with the homestyle cooking and intimate, familial vibe.

The decision to close the restaurant was not an easy one for Nadia, who thanked her devoted customers for “making the journey easier. I made so many friends here,” she said. “I hope I can continue to meet them in the community.”

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