September 1, 2017, by Paul Bass- "If not for his talents for forgery and for culinary invention, Salam Al-Rawi probably wouldn’t have been on Whalley Avenue this week preparing to open Westville Village’s newest restaurant. He might well have ended up in prison if he hadn’t been able to forge a convincing stamp on the passport he used to flee his native Iraq in 1978. He could have ended up dead. Years later his flair for improvising on Mediterranean recipes enabled him to open a string of successful New York restaurants. He plans to bring that flair — and to continue improvising — at Rawa, the eatery and take-out spot he hopes to open in late September at Whalley and West Rock avenues in the space last occupied by Stone Hearth, which closed last November. Al-Rawi was busy with a crew reconfiguring the space this week to a more open, communal design where diners will sit at 14-foot communal tables to sample and perhaps share pizzas topped with roasted eggplant and diced lamb or scallops, falafel, lentil soup, and unpredictable riffs on a wide range of traditions. “A reflection of my lifetime acquisition of culinary magic,” Al-Rawi responded when, during an interview break, he was asked to put a name on the concept..."
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