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March 3, 2024

Karetta: Like Safya but to take away

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Batata chips and pomegranate molasses aioli at Karetta.

Karetta is serving up the best of Mediterranean street food
from a cart built into its space on Jonson Street.

The team behind the new venture is the same as Safya, the Egyptian-influenced eatery on the beach end of Fletcher Street.
A secret ‘ingredient’ of both eateries is more front and centre at Karetta: Cecile Soliman, mother and mother-in-law to the main Safya team.

Cecile wasn’t available to share any of her secrets as she is currently back in Egypt for a family wedding. Her daughter-in-law, Caroline Soliman, tells me that even though others follow her family falafel recipe carefully, it always tastes subtly better when Cecile makes them herself. Cecile also makes the delicious pomegranate molasses aioli, the hummus and babaganoush as well as the dessert offerings: baklava and ice-cream.

Karetta (meaning ‘street cart’ in Egyptian) is strongly Egyptian influenced but is dubbed ‘Mediterranean’ as some options, such as tzadtziki, though found in Egyptian street food, have origins in other parts of the region, such as Greece and Turkey.

The menu is simple and based around the charcoal grill. ‘Just about everything is cooked on charcoal,’ says Caroline. The menu has flexibility, allowing you to either get a set pocket or construct your own meal according to your taste. Choose from a zestily spiced chicken, kofta or Cecile’s falafel and add a dip or some extra pickles.

Charcoal vegetables can complement, or be the main part of, a meal and ‘batata’ chips (batata is potato in Egyptian) are great with the pomegranate aioli. (Caroline tells me that one customer has likened this to McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce on steroids but I reckon it is much more subtly flavoured aioli with a twist – I wouldn’t have picked it as pomegranate but it is delicious.)

Karetta is a visual striking space, with a full-wall mural painted by street artist Teazer (from Gold Studio). ‘He is a customer at Safya,’ says Caroline. ‘The piece has more realism than his usual style and it has come up brilliantly.’ The mural shows the water of Alexandria, the ancient city situated on the Nile delta and Mediterranean Sea. The reflections of the colourful boats and the clouds are a soothing backdrop while at Karetta.

Though Karetta’s main focus is on takeaway, there are plans for more seating, and home delivery is also available.

Karetta Street Food, Shop 3, 93 Jonson Street, Byron Bay,
Ph: 6680 8218, Facebook/Insta: @Karetta Street Food. Delivery available (Suffolk to Ewingsdale) – see Menulog
or phone to order.

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