Handheld appetizer offers a blending of cuisines in Atlanta

Dish of the Week: Roasted eggplant empanadas from Botica

Botica chef Mimmo Alboumeh often talks of how he loves America’s melting-pot mix of cuisines and cultures. You can taste his own path here — born in Lebanon, growing up in Spain and spending time in Italy — in his hybrid dishes, notably the roasted eggplant empanadas appetizer.

Mimmo blends Mediterranean flavors in a savory handheld turnover that sends you on a taste trip. He firsts roasts eggplant, pulling out meat-like smokiness. Then, he pairs the filling with feta cheese and covers the mixture with pastry dough. After a quick fry, it becomes golden brown, with crispy bubbles, while the filling remains moist.

More feta is sprinkled on top. The flaky crescent moons are paired with a fresh marinara sauce made from olive oil, tomatoes, anchovy (for salinity), Spanish olives and fresh basil.

As an appetizer, it’s both hearty and light, and enjoying it out on the patio just might transport you to several Mediterranean cities ... all at once.

Botica. 1820 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta. 404-28-6358, eatbotica.com