It’s been about four years since wife-and-husband chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz abruptly departed the San Francisco restaurant scene following a high-profile falling out and legal dispute with a co-founder of their restaurant Noosh. But in good news for the chefs’ many fans, the couple is now preparing to make a big comeback, opening a new restaurant called Dalida in the Presidio National Park next month. It’ll take over the space formerly occupied by chef Traci des Jardins’s the Commissary, which opened in 2014 but shuttered abruptly in 2020.
Prior to Noosh, which remains open on Fillmore at Pine Street, the couple spent time cooking in some of the city’s and country’s most highly regarded kitchens. Sayat’s resume includes stops at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Le Bernardin, and San Francisco’s Mourad, while Laura brings experience from restaurants including Cafe Boulud, Mugaritz, Eleven Madison Park, and Saison, Eater reported in 2018. The couple also ran a successful pop-up called Istanbul Modern SF starting in 2016, though they scaled back in 2018 in order to focus on opening Noosh with former business partner John Litz.
According to a spokesperson, Dalida is inspired by “the genuine hospitality, fresh ingredients, memorable flavors, and profound culture of the Eastern Mediterranean.” Expect a full-service, upscale restaurant serving dinner to start, though the couple plans to expand hours to include lunch and brunch down the line. They’ll continue the ideas of “breaking bread together and sharing a meal across the table” established at Kitchen Istanbul and Noosh, cooking Eastern Mediterranean classics and other dishes endemic to the area. The menu will span mezes, shareable entrees, Middle Eastern pastas, and Eastern Mediterranean ice cream for dessert.
Dalida gets its name from a few places. In Polish-Yiddish it means dahlia, the official flower of San Francisco. But its also Sayat’s mother’s name, which she got in honor of the Egyptian-Italian-French singer from the ’50s. On both fronts, it’s a nod to the couple’s East-meets-West approach to the restaurant’s concept and its food. Sayat, who’s originally from Istanbul, Turkey, and Laura, who’s from Guerrero, Mexico, met while cooking at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York and now look to create a restaurant that’s both rooted in tradition but also reflective of the city and community where it’s located.
Dalida is expected to open at Building 101 just off the Presidio’s Main Parade Lawn in July.