Mohamed Kotb’s new patio-perfect dinner spot, DervishMazza, in North Minneapolis’ Old Highland neighborhood is the culmination of more than 30 years of hospitality experience — mostly as a bartender here (The Bachelor Farmer, Tilia), in New York City, and in his native Egypt. It’s also a natural extension of Kotb’s time as a host for Eatwith, a.k.a. “the Airbnb of food.”
Like Heather Jansz’s Sri Lankan cult hit The Curry Diva, DervishMazza is an intimate and inspiring look at one chef’s unbridled creativity — only Kotb has the added benefit of serving guests in his own backyard.
DervishMazza started with takeout/delivery service in early 2020, but added reservation-only seatings this past spring. The first thing you see when you walk up to the tall wooden fence that leads to his patio is a pineapple—long considered a symbol of hospitality.
“That’s what I grew up with: a constant exchange of kindness and compassion and health with your neighbor,” Kotb told Minnevangelist in the new issue of Minnesota Monthly. “Even when somebody comes to pick up food, I often make them a jar of homemade za’atar as a thank you, walk them back to their car, and wave goodbye because, to me, it’s really a relationship, a connection, a community.”
Kotb’s delightful five-course menu starts with a milky aperitif of anise-kissed arak and ends with a cooling dish of lemon sorbet. The meal itself unfolds like a refined tour of Kotb’s Egyptian roots and his own lust-for-life travels throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.
A shining example is his Silk Road signature: hummus with a beating heart of sun-dried tomatoes and Thai chilies. Elsewhere, muhammara and turkey thigh kofkas are a perfect marriage of sweet and savory; artichoke hearts are brightened up with blasts of preserved lemon; and crunchy, creamy falafel benefits from a trio of toasted seeds. This might be our favorite meal of 2021 (so far).
Click here to read Kotb’s full interview with Minnesota Monthly, covering everything from his childhood in Egypt to catering Amy Klobuchar’s birthday party. To reserve a table or order takeout, visit dervishmazza.com or text Mo at 612-770-3441.