Surrounded by soft yellow walls that had displayed simple photos of the middle east, Mazza’s 15th and 15th location engulfed me in its’ cozy, clean, and clutter free space. No doubt this was a good place to take a friend while being served with prompt and caring service. We were allowed to take our time through our meal and visit without feeling any push to free the table for another party. Mazza’s attentive service included replenishing anything we were in need of, such as pita break and drink refills.In short, Mazza’s left a good taste in my mouth when I left.
Our culinary journey begins: we started our meal with an appetizer sampler, that consisted of beesarah (quasi stew like dip made with fava beans and mallow leaves), hummus (blended garbanzo beans mixed with the essentials: lemon juice, garlic, tahini and olive oil), and labneh (a thick sour cream like yogurt) all served with pita bread, because the best way to delight my taste buds is with different flavors and spices. I often remind myself to mix it up and not get stuck in a rut, so I ordered the sampler and tried something new. Then, I made sure I treated myself by washing down the tasty sampler morsels with a cup of cardamon tea that had a sidecar of a delicate orange blossom syrup sweetener while my guest savored a homemade limeade.
The decision wasn’t difficult when it came to picking an entree. I can basically close my eyes, point anywhere on the menu, and be fine with my selection. My guest’s dish was real treat to the eye that even distracted me from my own plate. My guest ordered chicken and cauliflower kabseh. She describes the Kabseh as moist and flavorful and continues to say, “The pine nuts that accompanied the dish made it a perfect combination of taste and texture. The chicken morsels had been marinated before they were cooked, and so each bite was full of moisture and flavor.” I had the baked kafta which was made of a flavorful ground beef mixture that was placed over fried potatoes all smothered in a wonderful sesame based sauce over basmati rice. Yep, the same rice you would get when you order Thai food. The dishes were presented in a nice, clean, classy – but simple way. I was ready to dive into everything that was presented before us for the presentation alone.
Our culinary adventure ends short, because we didn’t have any room for dessert. What a shame. Since I didn’t have any room for dessert, but was taking home a doggie bag, I wish our server would have gone the extra step and ask me if I wanted to take a dessert to go – since I was already taking some food home. Oh well.
To recap, the food tasted freshly prepared. Nothing tasted like it was sitting around in the kitchen. I give Mazza’s a virtual high five on the quality and then another high five for when it comes to selecting local ingredients. Yet, I felt disappointed with our order of hummus, as it was a bit on the soupy side, perhaps because it was blended and wasn’t at a consistency that I enjoy.
The service in details: Our server was much like a star – we knew he was there, even though we didn’t always see him. When he approached our table, he did so at a distance and we warmed up to him – allowing our conversation not to be interrupted on his terms. It was the best kind of service that a restaurant could give a diner – flowing with the mood of the table they are serving. I especially liked how our server asked if we enjoyed spicy food and then accommodated us with a unique spice to accompany our dishes.
Mazza’s dishes are unique to the middle east and can be replicated by other establishments, yet the service, atmosphere and overall experience will bring me back. This may be surprising, because it goes against common complaints about their slow service.
Maybe it is the ingredients themselves of middle eastern cuisine that is simply satisfying or maybe it was Mazza’s itself. Regardless, if you are looking for flavorful food that will leave a positive impression – this is the cuisine to explore. Does this make your mouth want to dance? Go ahead..you know that you want to smell the aromas, taste the spices, and get excited about food. Give yourself permission and imagine being wrapped up in a warm, vibrant breeze that carries the sunshine and the warm colors that surround the Mediterranean while you are eating at Mazza’s.
Rating – I would be willing to return.