According to Bekir Helvacioglu, the inspiration for his new Legume Gourmet Market (426 Mount Pleasant Ave, Mamaroneck, 914-732-3003; legumegourmet.com) came from customers of his restaurant, Turkish Meze. “For the last 12 years, people kept asking me where they could buy Turkish rice, coffee, halva, flatbreads, Turkish olive oils, et cetera,” he explains. Beginning in late December, Helvacioglu could point across the street from Turkish Meze to answer his customers’ queries.
Legume Gourmet Market, in the 2,220-square-foot space that formerly housed The Wine Vault, offers specialty Mediterranean foods including an assortment of genuine Mediterranean and Eastern European cheeses such as kashkaval, kaymak, feta, halloumi, and orgu (a Turkish braided string cheese); labne (thick yogurt); tarama (caviar); ayran (a cold yogurt drink mixed with salt); Turkish simit (sesame-seed-crusted “bagel”); quinces (pear-like fruit); green za’atar (Middle Eastern spice mix); and 14 varieties of Turkish delight (a starch-and-sugar gel confection).
Packaged to-go items from Turkish Meze—grape leaves, couscous, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush—are also available, as are pre-made wraps starting at $4.99, a modest assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, salad and olive bars, and two soups prepared daily ranging from $1.99 to $3.49 a bowl. A must-try is the homemade baklava ($3.99/four squares).
In late 2012, Helvacioglu saw the available space and wanted to make it his. “I had a dream about it one night. I was standing on the corner and saw a sign over the storefront that read ‘Turkish Market.’” When he saw a “For Rent” sign, he knew it was meant to be.
Helvacioglu and his wife, Gulsah, moved to the US from Izmir, Turkey, 15 years ago and have two daughters, 6 ½-year-old Tuana, and 1-year-old Dahlia. Add Turkish Meze and now Legume Gourmet Market, and the couple have four “babies” in total. They could not be happier.
Legume Gourmet Market is open 6:30 am until 10 pm every day.