Even on this bustling stretch of northern Mulberry Street, in a part of town already loaded with cute, popular restaurants, the brand-new, Middle Eastern fast casual Dez really stands out. Maybe it's the kitchy neon "desert" symbols above the appealingly wide-open entrance, or the expansive sidewalk seating (complete with personal space enforcing barricades), or the sunny decor inside, with warm colors, wicker chairs, and ample plant life contrasting neatly with the black-and-white booths.

Or maybe it's just that the passion behind the female-run project, from Cooking Channel chef Eden Grinshpan and by Chloe co-founder Samantha Wasser (the real Chloe was ousted), comes through in all the design details and, most important, in the food itself.

The restaurant hosted a preview party this week and everything we ate was straight-up delicious, from the creamy (and pink!) Beet Hummus and the bright and chunky vegetable salad Sumac Fattoush, to the lively Harissa and Honey Roasted Carrots and the pleasantly funky Moroccan Lamb Meatballs. The soft, fluffy pita was first-rate, too. Grinshpan also showed off her Shawarma Burger (the most expensive item on the menu at $13), a piece of crispy eggplant sticking out of the top and all sorts of big-flavored delights (tahini, amba, zhoug) lurking within.

(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)

So how did a Canadian TV chef and vegan restaurant creative guru come to open Dez? I spoke briefly with the duo, and Grinshpan told me, "I love Middle Eastern food. I'm half Israeli, and over the last few years it's really spoken to me as the food I want to create. And when I saw that contemporary Middle Eastern food was starting to have this big movement, I said to myself, 'if I'm not going to jump in and be a part of that I'm going to regret it completely.'"

Wasser added, "There's a lot of competition in the Middle Eastern fast casual market right now, but I think the big difference for us is Eden. It's a very chef-driven menu at Dez, not a build-your-own-bowl sort of place. For two years it's been a labor of love on our part to get all the flavors in every dish right, and it's all exactly what Eden would serve in her home to her family and friends. And it's aesthetically beautiful!"

Dez sells rosé on tap (and other wine and beer), soft-serve ice cream (a rotating monthly flavor; first up is Walnut Honey Kadaifi), a few brunch-only offerings like Halva Toast, a selfie-bait mirror in the restroom, and branded merchandise, mostly items such as slap bracelets and bucket hats that the pair recall with fondness from their youth in the 1990s.

Dez is located at 227 Mulberry Street between Prince and Spring and is now open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (inthedez.com)