Fans of Taboon’s signature clay dome oven and its chef will have another chance to enjoy freshly baked bread, meze and Mediterranean hits at the new-but-familiar Frena eatery taking over the 10th Avenue space.
Family owners Aharon Vaknin, Stephen Vaknin and Danielle Vaknin will operate Frena Mediterranean out of 773 10th Avenue (on the corner of W52nd St), where the popular Taboon once stood before the restaurant suffered a major fire in May 2021. The cafe will feature a very similar Middle Eastern flavor profile, featuring freshly made falafel, hummus, tzatziki, lamb kebabs and even the restaurant’s signature Chicken Taboon (prepared in a similar taboon oven to its predecessor). Frena will also offer family-style $60 prix fixe options, perfect for sharing a meal with large groups.
“We are essentially reopening the same restaurant,” Stephen Vaknin revealed at Tuesday’s Community Board 4 Business License and Permits Committee meeting. “We have the same chef — who I know was near and dear to many people’s hearts in the community — and the same food,” he added. “We’re opening up a very, very similar concept that’s nearly identical, but of course renewing the place and making it look nice and fresh.” The new restaurateurs agreed with the landlord that the oven will be gas-powered and not wood-burning to ensure additional fire protection. There will be 12 tables inside and 8 on the sidewalk outside — with 10 seats at their bar.
“We’re excited to welcome the neighborhood back into our doors as we reintroduce this Mediterranean staple. Diners who loved Taboon can look forward to returning favorites and explore dishes unique to the new Frena experience — centering around the signature taboon oven that the location is known for,” said Chef Efi Naon. “I’ve been incredibly grateful for the loyal community that supported us in the past and can’t wait to see the returning faces as we venture into our new concept.”
For West Siders who have mourned Taboon’s closure, Frena’s offerings will be a familiar culinary balm. Open for 17 years in Hell’s Kitchen, Chef Efi Naon was known for combining his expertise in Israeli, French and Greek cuisine to create a pleasing Mediterranean menu of well-made, “modern Israeli” cuisine. New York Times food critic Frank Bruni awarded the restaurant two stars.
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“At Taboon, it’s all about that oven,” wrote Bruni in his review. “The restaurant’s name is an Arabic word for oven. The restaurant is laid out so that the special oven, mammoth and domed, with a coat of white concrete over the bricks, snatches your gaze and demands your attention the moment you walk through the door.”
Now local foodies who felt similarly about the shuttered restaurant’s culinary and visual centerpiece will have a new chance to enjoy freshly prepared, oven-baked fusion cuisine at Frena. Stephen and Danielle Vaknin told W42ST that they would keep us posted on opening dates and other details for the restaurant’s newest chapter!