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Egyptian, Italian, Golden Pyramid in Mays Landing has it all

Egyptian, Italian, Golden Pyramid in Mays Landing has it all

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Egyptian food is hard to find. In fact, it was nonexistent in South Jersey for the last five years since Mohamed Bahgat closed his Golden Pyramid Restaurant.

Although Bahgat was running another business — a gentleman’s club called the Hot Spot on the Black Horse Pike in Mays Landing — his heart was in the kitchen. So after realizing the strip club business was more risk than reward with increased insurance premiums, he decided to go back to the career he loves.

“I think the time is right,” Bahgat says of Golden Pyramid, which has been totally redesigned and reconstructed from the Hot Spot into a full-service restaurant again. “There are 20,000 cars a day on the Black Horse Pike, so there’s a good chance to be successful.”

Bahgat’s Golden Pyramid debuted on Main Street in Mays Landing in 1991 and has been in three locations since, including where it is now as well as a shack on the Black Horse Pike near Canal’s Discount Liquor Mart. And although he doesn’t regret his decision to briefly switch careers, he’s glad to be running a restaurant again.

“People kept telling me to reopen and that they missed me and my cooking,” says Bahgat, who grew up in Egypt before traveling — and working in kitchens — around the world. “My roots are in Middle Eastern and Egyptian cooking, but it’s always been a fusion style to incorporate American cuisine, and I have built a pretty good reputation doing that.”

Currently, Golden Pyramid’s menu is a monstrosity with more than 100 items, something Bahgat admits he has to scale down. But if you stick to the dishes that are close to Bahgat’s heart, you won’t be disappointed.

Particularly impressive are the Middle Eastern and Egyptian-influenced dishes in Bahgat’s wheelhouse, including the complimentary homemade dips that come with a basket of warm pita bread: hummus, baba ghanoush and Foul Medames, fava beans cooked in tahini sauces.

“They go so quickly because people love them so much … I have to make them daily,” Bahgat says.

On the appetizer side, check out the char-broiled octopus ($8.95) marinated in lemon, lime and olive oil; his signature falafel ($4.95) fried to perfection and served with diced onions, cucumbers, tomato and tahini sauce; and the grape leaves ($5.95) stuffed with ground lamb, rice and pine nuts.

Soups are homemade, including an amazing Egyptian creamy chicken soup ($3.95), a perfect precursor to Bahgat’s most popular dishes such as chicken curry ($15.95) with saffron rice; shish kabobs ($15.95) with marinated lamb and vegetables; Egyptian lamb stew ($15.95) with hot and spicy curry, coriander and veggies over rice; and Egyptian fish stew ($16.95) with fresh flounder baked in a parsley tomato sauce served over brown rice or couscous.

“Ninety percent of those recipes come from my family,” he says. “I was born between six sisters and we used to cook with my mom all of the time. The spices are basic Egyptian spices and fused with American dishes, so you will see a lot of cilantro, parsley, dill, curry.”

But Bahgat is equally proud of his Mediterranean and Italian dishes such as the seafood paella ($21.95) with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, chicken and chorizo with saffron rice; whole red snapper ($19.95) and whole striped bass ($18.95) broiled or char-grilled with Bahgat’s seasonings; and even veal parm ($16.95) and chicken Francaise ($15.95).

“There is something for everyone, including straight American cuisine like our Cajun seafood gumbo ($19.95) that people just love,” says Bahgat, who also offers a variety of steak, veal, chicken and seafood dishes in traditional American presentation. “Egyptian cuisine has been influenced so much by other countries who have occupied it at one time or another, whether it’s Greek, English, Turkish, French, and I like to show all of that in my cooking.”

And don’t forget about the homemade desserts including the sinfully sweet baklava ($3.50), phyllo dough stuffed with nuts and sauces; and the konafa ($3.50) shredded wheat stuffed with nuts and sauces.

So far, Bahgat’s decision has been paying off. Crowds have been strong, and people are glad he’s back.

“I am happy,” he says. “I think people are looking for a different, unique experience and a friendly place where they can have a great meal and a good drink. I want to do more renovations to the inside and outside. But I am proud of the place and the food. And I love the people. I even bring them in the kitchen and show them how to make whatever they want to learn.”


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