Bassel Osmani was born in France to Lebanese parents. He mostly grew up in Lebanon, later moving to North America for college.

“Throughout my childhood, I was immersed in a foodie upbringing, especially on my mother’s side,” he says. “My grandparents, aunts, and uncles had their say in the kitchen. This made for delicious Sunday feasts where everyone became a food critic.”

We caught up with Osmani, who is the co-owner of Pita Jungle

 

Tell us how you came to co-found Pita Jungle …

I met my future business partners, Nelly and Fouad, at Arizona State University. After completing our degrees (mine was a master's in bioengineering), we rolled the dice on opening a healthy restaurant, something we had always discussed while in college. We were so jaded from all the fast and late-night meals we had endured while in college. We truly believed that a restaurant that could provide value, healthfulness, and flavor, which we felt was a missing ingredient in the world of restaurants around us.

We tasked ourselves to design a menu that could offer a combination of whole grains, nuts, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins, in one meal and all that at an affordable price. It was important to us that the restaurant was adorned with ever-changing local art, where guests can immediately be immersed in great music and attended to by the hip, friendly staff who connect personally with their patrons.

Why did you name it Pita Jungle?

Pita Jungle, as the name, just made sense to us. It was absurdly catchy and begged for further elaboration, so we went with it. It captured a host of different notions that can be interpreted differently by anyone. We loved how wacky and funny the name was in a non-sensical fashion and how it engulfs whatever your imagination drifts in your mind. 

Your personal favorite dish on the menu …

I order at Pita Jungle the same way most of our patrons do: I customize. Just today I had the chicken pasta salad, with the “hummus & chicken”-style chicken, added feta and red onions, with lemon vinaigrette on the side. My favorite dishes are all over the menu, but one of the things I often gravitate to is the freshly made hummus drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and scooped with extra toasted, wood-fired pita chips. Some of my all-time favorite dishes on our menu are the Mediterranean Salad, the Hummus and Chicken, the Shawarma, and the Wood Fired Salmon.

The most difficult thing about owning a restaurant?

The most difficult thing about owning a restaurant is trying to constantly align all the elements that contribute to a perfect patron experience. There is so much to consider from the cuisine to the ambiance, to the vibe and the hospitality, we try to think of everything our guests would enjoy and implement them into our day-to-day operations. 

The best thing?

The best thing about owning a restaurant is when everything aligns perfectly, from the food to the hospitality, it's pure exhilaration.

Favorite places around Scottsdale?

I like Pizzeria Bianco and LGO, Grassroots, AZ88, Pomo, and Pita Jungle, of course! 

When you’re not working, we’d find you …

When I’m not working and if the temperature is not shooting up over the roof, I love me a great game of pickleball.

Bassel Osmani