“I was supposed to be a nurse,” said Dhuha Ali, co-owner of Uptop Cuisine in Williamsport. The new take-out and catering service burst into the city eatery scene in 2020 with a focus on seafood, steak, breakfast foods and soon a food truck option.
After graduating from nursing school, Ali moved to West Virginia and became a CNA. But soon a shocking Diabetes diagnosis forced her to move back to Williamsport.
It was a heartbreaking diagnosis that Ali now says she is thankful for. It opened up new doors and showed her a different path for her life.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “I liked to eat! But I never thought I would be a chef at all.”
“It wasn’t until I actually had to pay attention to what I was putting into my body, that’s when I got interested in (cooking),” Ali said.
Despite being a novice in the kitchen, Ali began cooking out of her house and soon drew the attention of Doug Fairfax and long-time chef in Williamsport. Fairfax has worked in a variety of local kitchens and specializes in revitalizing area restaurants into something new and unique.
They found in each other a similar passion for food and offering a new cuisine to the Williamsport region.
After first making dishes and catering out of the Community Kitchen in the Pajama Factory, the pair found their 623 Arch St. location in July.
Ali enjoys taking popular dishes and recreating them into her own style with her own special spin. The food ranges from fish sandwiches to burgers, steaks, salads and deserts.
The food is fresh and locally sourced, Fairfax said.
“We try to get as much from local farms as we can,” Fairfax said, adding that they especially make sure to get their fish items as fresh as possible.
Uptop specializes with seafood options, putting its own unique twist on common dishes – one of the most popular being the Garlic Seafood Grilled Cheese.
“It’s probably one of our top sellers here at the restaurant,” Fairfax said.
In the past two years of working together, Fairfax said Ali has become a chef to be reckoned with. The pair work well together, both bringing their unique skills to running the business.
They have big plans for the future, hoping to offer a sit-in service eventually. But the biggest news is the upcoming food truck. According to Fairfax, the truck will be sent out to Williamsport streets in 2022 and will feature some dishes not available in the restaurant.