MAZZA: a dillicious passion
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
per the dillicious opinion there is but one thing that takes a great idea from good, past better, to best. it’s a simple notion, many work an entire life to embody. numerous will succeed, tho in the culinary industry, so few dilliciously do. this catalyst for success is passion: that is a love for ones craft more intense than mere action. a confidence to proudly share with any who will listen, a dedication to curating the soul of a project, and a drive to always refine that love, pride, and dedication. sounds like a relationship doesnt it? isn't it?
you might choose to dine in the bustle of 9th and 9th or enjoy the white-picket-tranquility at 15th and 15th for such a dillicious affair. regardless of intersection, that passion; the soul, pride, love, and drive, is rarely more palpable than it is here. ask anybody you like, it could be the owner, any one of his devoted employees, a new patron, or a habitual regular, the answer is always the same; mazza is a successful passion.
living in a restaurant scene growing quickly, often in its own direction, it must to be noted when a spot has been working toward its current #dillicious standing for eighteen years. these forerunners [like ali sabeith, owner] in the race for localized culinary brilliance set the standards that new owners and managers will work to exceed for generations to come. even more notable than that, when after eighteen years, not only the #dillicious food- which is timeless- but the space and experience remain worth mention. incredible service across time is as tricky and ever-changing as fashion. making choices different enough to nudge the comfort zone boundaries just dramatically enough is, always a tight rope act. if every time you went out to eat, were the same, or only barely different [not only would i have nothing to write about] there would be no point in going out at all. the minute ideas that surround how an evening out might feel, taste, or look, are the instruments that ensure one restaurant remains admirably different from the rest.
a cheerful hostess, who seems the type working thru a modern dance program, snickers an “of course” at our server request and whisks us to a table. the infamous, also handsome, tyler hillam [who i strongly urge you sit with] waits to greet us. uniquely dressed in warm copper and wood, wearing dazzling jewels the space welcomes you with appetizing flair. softly glowing lanterns hang from the ceiling bringing intimacy to the open space, suggesting anything from the menu to be a swanky choice. every treat my dillicious associates and i tasted we found unexpected in complex enjoyable ways, not unlike the furnishings.
conversational wheels work at their best well lubricated, and should that lubrication not arrive to you as a desert rose. this sweet house cocktail is a secretive blend of peach, strawberry, lime, and rose water spiked with citrus vodkas. altho dinner at mazza is hardly desert like, the refreshing bliss this easy-drinker offers is as beautiful a flower blooming amidst a sea of sand. a bit closer to the flavour horizon the menu drifts along, the whiskey white, uses high west silver oat whiskey and orange blossom syrup to pause time as cardamom flutters across a warm sunset of flavours.
start with a mana’eesh and do not miss the fatoosh salad. a traditional lebanese flatbread a topped with an intriguing array of flavours like feta, sesame, and walnuts. cooked to a crunch ideal for enjoyment with what i feel to be the most dillicious salad in the city. radish, cucumber, and tomato overwhelm leafy greens tossed in a tangy but sweet molasses pomegranate lemon emulsion. finally she’s topped with seasoned pita chips so magical i wish i could order an entire plate. its complex tho not overbearing, each flavour perfectly selected to not hide or be hidden by another. share it with some friends or enjoy it as a meal, regardless of how you fatoosh, as long as you do you’ve done it right.
when drinking wine at mazza i take incredible pleasure in ordering wines from a region i rarely get to appreciate. the barkan chardonnay is from israel and has an incredibly polished finish for a chardonnay- surprisingly soft pear on the nose and bold tropical fruits in the mouth exemplify the diversity of chardonnay and would pair gorgeously with the big brightness of the fatoosh.
go armed with a big appetite and companions enough to provide yourself the space to enjoy all the filling somethings i recommend. even still, with so many intriguing things on the menu it may be hard to choose. as such a bite or two into your salad order a lamb kebab, they should not to be missed. consider it brain-food to help you find clarity within the decision delirium. roasted to such idilic perfection you can taste the delicate satisfaction of the meat falling apart in your mouth before it has. don’t be shy when ordering your entree, if you can’t choose, ask Ty to choose for you. in fact, ask ty any sort of thing. his conversational aptitude, wit, and unparalleled charm will exponentially improve your experience. if you’re split between a couple options, you better schedule a return visit, these kind of craving wont rest unsatisfied. even after enjoying the award winning pumpkin kibbeh time and time again it takes a couple views to pull my gaze past it on the menu. served over a simple crisp salad with tahini for dipping- this loaf of vegetable goodness not only pleases the vegan crowd but incorporates spinach, walnuts, and spices in a way that only dreams are made of. if the lamb hit such a sweet spot you simply must have more, mazza’s lamb shank is for you. braised, bone-in and served over fluffy textural basmati rice, they use their “special blend of aromatics” to bring extra vitality to a dish already teeming with life.
pairing fermented juice with lamb can be a tricky performance. to weave a parchment delicate background, kept from tangling with the subtle delicate flavours, yet fortified against the unique saporial weight of the lamb itself, can be a high-wire balancing act. tannins will will be your center of gravity, providing a dry differentiation between flavours. from lebanon, chateau ksara reserve du couvet is on the playbill at a harmonically comfortable price. warm notes of spice and plum dance a garnet pas de tois with the flavour subtleties and delicate texture of the meat. a pairing so keen allows the lamb to truly sparkle against a glimmering backdrop, ’tis a symphony meant to spotlight performances as basic a kebab or as prima-donna a roasted shank.
its not every day that you see a stew on an entree menu and when you do its often concerning. i find myself wondering why the kitchen ordered too much of whatever they did forcing themselves to “stew” on their actions. another rule-of-stew: this type of bowl-and-spoonable shouldn’t be called such unless given ample time to stew. the lebanese okra stew not only grants exception to my curiosity but here you can taste the time in every bite. robust, and bursting with flavour, full of peppers, okra, and tomato, it is yet another dish on the menu at mazza unlike anything else in the city.
moving from a bold wine like the couvet to a lighter glass may be seen as untraditional. regardless, to pair with another course of indulgence I suggest you extend your stay in lebanese wine country a moment more with the sean minor pinot noir. bright cherry notes cary an unexpectedly sweet herbal body. there is nothing typical about this pinot, right down to a finish that sits with you like a barolo. it’s the ultimate stage-mate for a number of dishes. if that different experience is your date night goal the baked kafta might be your council in the difficult decision making process. a super lean beef layered amidst thinly sliced potato’s and baked into a coma inducing medallion of dilliciousness- i’d rave to friends about her as the “beefy” version of ratatouille, or perhaps even the funeral potato so sexy it’s like that one time you slept with the unexpectedly handsome guest who showed up at aunt petunia’s wake.
after enjoying all the savory moments your dinner wished upon you, it may be necessary to take a moment, perhaps leaving the restaurant for a stroll around the quaint intersection to digest, meet a puppy, and see the local (sculpture of a) dinosaur. do not miss the sweets, especially the baklava. this sticky triangle of flakey goodness is as striking as the lightning of zeus’ heavenly realm layered into nutty textural elation. whether you take at least a slice for each body to go, take a walk and return, or order cup of turkish coffee; be patient enough for your sweet tooth to drive you mad- the insanity is worth it.
experientially, turkish coffee is worth her weight in gold; rather than filtered, as basically all other coffee, grounds are boiled in a petite, copper, often decorative, pot. don’t be to eager when she arrives, you must let the sediment quell. you pull the beverage across your teeth between sips of water. in the lebanese culture, coffee is a delicacy, each drop to be savored. the water is used to reawaken and prepare the palate for the next sip. if you are not a coffee person, or just being a lump, i suggest you sweeten things up with a lump(s) of sugar and play along! our post dinner merriment involves a fun game of fortune! tasseomancy, it is named. reading your grounds, the game. once your warm nightcap has been sipped away, and the grounds have taken time to think on you, you swirl the sediment, and turn the cup on itself. then, in tradition wait for the cup to cool.. tho, admittedly i’m quite impatient, this is a great time to finish your sweet treats. another from your table then interprets from the handle in the direction of the dominate hand any sort of fortune for the drinker. pull up a key for interpretations from the internet if you need some imaginative help- be bold, act things out, have fun with your interpretations. you and your party will love it. theres nothing quite like a bit of fun with your food to round out the perfect night on the town.
the essence of passion is ever-present thru an experience at mazza. attention to detail so acute you can taste your surroundings and feel your order like an emotion. dedication to a craft on this magnitude with unwavering devotion to confidently strike a different cord is what makes mazza, mazza, and also undoubtably, one of the most dillicious eateries sitting on our salty soil.