Jay Dib’s path to becoming owner and operator of Mozaic has been long and winding. The Lebanese-born chef attended culinary school in Toronto, Canada, then moved to Monterey after graduating, where he lived with relatives. Upon visiting Santa Cruz, Dib noticed the city lacked the food he grew up with. So, he opened Mozaic seven years ago. The décor is rife with drapes, murals, stone pillars and mosaic chandeliers, and the menu draws on influences spanning the Mediterranean. Chicken souvlaki skewers with rice pilaf and salad highlight the Greek offerings. The moussaka, a classic Turkish dish, features layers of potato, eggplant, ground beef and bechamel sauce. Meanwhile, the paella hits Spanish notes, loaded with seafood, chicken and sausage with saffron rice. The pistachio pudding, a Lebanese staple from Dib’s mother’s recipe, is what’s for dessert.
Hours are noon-8:30pm every day (9pm Friday and Saturday). GT recently got the deets from Dib about how locals feel about Mozaic and how the Monterey Bay reminds him of Lebanon.
What do the locals say about Mozaic?
JAY DIB: We notice great appreciation from the locals for our food and what we do. They always say we have the best hummus in town, and guests also love the ambiance and energy. We also have Jeff Pappas, a bartender who has worked in the building for 19 years and has a great following. We are a local’s favorite restaurant, and they really do rave about our cuisine. We pride ourselves on consistency and are grateful for the loyal regulars who kept us going through the pandemic.
How does this area remind you of Lebanon?
The climate and the ocean are very similar. And not only that, but also the food—things like olive oil, tomato, cucumber, greens and olives are all common ingredients between Mediterranean and Californian cuisine. And also, the four seasons here are similar too. When I first came to Canada and had to deal with the snow, it was tough to adapt. But when I came to this area, the climate, cuisine and definitely the welcoming people made it feel like home, and now I am grateful to be part of the local culture.