Yacine Tahanout and Mehdi Fermeli immigrated to America from Algeria in 2013. They wouldn’t meet each other until later on. Separately, the two worked as chefs, dishwashers, and performed other odd jobs to build up savings. “When I came here, I was working small jobs. The first job I got here was at a small restaurant. I was cooking fried chicken,” Fermeli said.
As fate would have it, the two met in North Philadelphia and talked about a goal to one day open up a restaurant. They saved investment money by switching jobs to work in a factory; and now they work tirelessly as co-owners to put together a menu with input from their wives. Over eight years later, the two “brothers” stumbled onto 504 N Clinton Ave in Trenton in December of 2021 and opened a small Mediterranean restaurant called Nomad.
Nomad serves typical American foods like cheeseburgers, cheesesteaks and fries to more Mediterranean-style dishes from Algeria. Fermeli explains that his favorite things to cook are his cultural meals. “My favorite food to cook is our food because I know it’s healthy… it’s tasty…. I remember one guy, he said that one’s different, but this is good,” Fermeli said. The two created the menu to service the diverse Trenton community.
One specialty they want to add to the menu is couscous, a pasta made from semolina flour mixed with water. “We make the couscous with meat and vegetables, like lamb or chicken or beef,” Fermeli said. He likes to have customers try his Algerian recipes. Recipes like the Shorba. “Most people in North Africa cook it. We serve Shorba with a side of Burek.”
Shorba is a chicken noodle-like Algerian dish with burek, a spring roll filled with cream cheese and beef. Each week, they have cultural specials to keep their menu fresh and adventurous for customers.
Though not as busy on the weekdays, the two say that they see every walk of life from the city come in on the weekends. “A lot of people come in for our food,” Tahanout said. “We (see) a lot of people from different communities: Asian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Hispanic, European, you name it,” He said they have had a lot of help from the Trenton community. “Right now, the (community) is helping. They don’t know us yet, but they come in, they try our food, and they help us a lot,” Tahanout said.
The owners are aiming their sights a little higher now, hoping to build a big restaurant with large kitchen staff, waiters, bussers and the works, in the coming years. For now, it is the smaller, more welcoming atmosphere that lends to Nomad’s charm and delivery of both American and Algerian comfort food.
You can find Nomad at 504 N. Clinton Ave in Trenton. Check out their menu on Facebook. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All of their meat is Halal.