Evening restaurant review, October 2007
This weekend saw our fourth visit (in as many months I’d wager) to Mazza. Each visit has been to the newer 9th and 9th location. For as long as I can recall we have attempted to visit the original 15th and 15th Mazza location and failed. Reviews were consistently excellent and we love Middle-Eastern cuisine. Getting a table, however, often seemed as if it would require divine intervention with crowds filling up the tiny entrance way waiting for tables every night. As such, it was with some anticipation that we read about this new, larger location.
I believe this was formerly the site of the old Cloud 9 Moroccan restaurant. I’d guess it was they who decked out the quite understated, but highly atmospheric, dining space. Dark but not dingy, elegant but still full of Eastern charm, I really like the dining room at Mazza. It’s clear that thought and money were not in short supply.
This new location seems to be as popular as the other. Each of our visits has required a small wait before being seated, though nothing longer than 15 minutes. Of course thats the price you pay for not reserving ahead of time.
At the recommendation of our waitress, I started our most recent meal with the Lamb Sfiha ($3.50). I also ventured a Lebanese wine while the opportunity presented itself. I opted for the Ksara Prieure ($5.50 a glass), cinsault/cabernet sauvignon blend. Fruity and spicy to hold up to the bold flavors ahead.
Essentially a small ground lamb pizza without cheese. Tasty enough, a touch dry on its own. The accompanying cucumber dip helped that along nicely. A pleasant enough appetizer, nothing earth shattering.
Again on a recommendation, Wendi tried the Spinach Fatayer ($2.99):
The fatayer was far superior. Reminiscent of an Indian samosa; the fatayer was a baked pastry stuffed with fresh spinach and spices. We couldn’t agree on the exact spices, but concurred it tasted excellent. It was quickly gobbled up.
Wendi’s main course was the Musakhan ($12.95). The Mazza menu describes this as a “folded bread purse” with chicken, onions, olive oil and herbs. A chicken burrito like wrap carefully seasoned. On the side, a potato-based garlic dip was also served. This proved to be VERY garlicy.
The Musakhan also came with a side of the intriguingly named Lebanese salad. I’ve never been quite sure what qualified the salad as Lebanese, it does sound more interesting than green salad though.
Wendi seemed quite pleased with her choice so I was obliged to try a bite or three. I would happily order the Musakhan. I would opt for a non-pastry appetizer however.
For my main course, I tried the Shawarma Platter ($13.95), a mix of seasoned lamb and beef. This was served atop hummus with a side of Lebanese salad. The platter also came with warm pita.
While possessing an enjoyable flavor, I found the dish too dry. Hummus isn’t exactly a moist accompaniment to what was already particularly dry shredded meat. After one pita stuffed with meat and a little hummus, my mouth felt like it was stuffed with cardboard. Albeit very tasty cardboard. The dish would definitely benefit a lighter, perhaps sharper side sauce.
By this point, we were quite full. Still, our friendly waitress managed to persuade us into dessert. We finished the meal with a Baklava finger priced at around $3. A crisp spring roll-shaped pastry stuffed with ground nuts.
Although the dishes I selected on this particular visit did not live up to past favorites (the delicately spiced lamb and rice dolaas is worthy of note), Wendi was more than pleased with her choices. My previous experiences have been consistently good, I am sure we will back again.
Indeed the winter months are rapidly approaching. Some of the heavier sauced and stewed dishes sound especially appealing for the dark and cold nights. I shall be sure to review once more as the cold nights draw in.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.