Table Talk

Uprooted Mazah settles just down the street

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GARY SEMAN JR./THISWEEKNEWS
Maggie Ailabouni sits at the bar of her restaurant, Mazah Mediterranean Eatery, which recently relocated to a larger storefront at 1453 Grandview Ave.
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Mazah Mediterranean Eatery has moved to larger digs on Grandview Avenue.

The Lebanese restaurant has taken over the former w.g. Grinders space at 1453 Grandview Ave.

"I didn't have enough space for all my customers," owner Maggie Ailabouni said of the previous spot, which was about half the size.

Ailabouni said the new space is about 2,100 square feet and seats 64 inside and 16 on the patio. She said she worked on the interior for six months then closed for a month while she transitioned from 1439 Grandview Ave.

Mazah has a comfortable interior with a neutral, earth-tone color scheme, wooden floor and lots of natural lighting. She installed all new equipment in the kitchen.

The new space allowed her to add a full bar, with plenty of craft beer by the bottle, three brews on tap, wine and liquor.

The menu, however, has not changed, said Ailabouni, who is of Lebanese descent and was born in Nazareth, Israel.

"I grew up on it," she said. "I kept the recipes. I love original recipes. I love tradition."

For those who enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine, the menu has a familiar ring: hummus, babagannoush, tabouleh, falafel, fatoush salad and an array of kebabs.

Entrees are priced from $10 to $21. Lunches are $8 to $12 and designed for quick service for the busy midday crowd.

The difference in the food, Ailabouni said, is the attention to detail. For example, the hummus is prepared in-house with dried chickpeas imported from Turkey. Yogurt for the labaneh and tzatziki (a Greek sauce) is made on premises.

Ailabouni hand selects all the cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil to make sure it lives up to that of her grandfather, who also cold-pressed ripe olives.

Lebanese coffee is infused with cardamom and gets a touch of sugar, while cream is forbidden.

All meals are prepared fresh, she said.

"We do it on the spot," Ailabouni said.

The first Monday of every month is Lebanese night, for which she makes traditional dishes not on the regular menu, such as kibbie, a raw lamb dish in which the meat is ground to a fine texture with bulgar wheat, toasted pine nuts, onions and spices; stuffed zucchini; and shish barak, a type of dumpling stuffed with lamb.

The original Mazah, which opened in 2009, is now home to Jobu Ramen.

Ailabouni said she wanted to own a restaurant and spend time with her family. She got both at Mazah, where three of her four children have active roles at the restaurant and her youngest pitches in on occasion. Her brother, Fadi Ispanioly, also is a chef at the restaurant.

She said she was fortunate not to have moved from the Grandview Avenue strip.

"I love Grandview Avenue," she said.

"I've been coming here for years and eating at the other restaurants, too."

Mazah is open for lunch and dinner, and closed between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is open for lunch and dinner with no break in between on Saturday and is closed Sunday. For more information, call 614-488-3633.

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Hayat Market & Bakery is opening a second location.

The appropriately titled New Hayat Market & Bakery is taking over roughly 7,000 square feet of space at 5435 Bethel-Sawmill Center, at the northwest corner of Bethel and Sawmill roads.

Shirzad Fadhi, whose Iraqi Kurdish family opened the original Hayat at 5220 Bethel Center Mall, said the new store will be a full-fledged grocery store, with halal meats, a bakery and a small restaurant, too.

Meanwhile, the Bethel store soon will be known as Al Hayat Market & Bakery.

It is known for its fresh-baked naan, cooked in a tandoor oven; "sandwich" bread, or samoon, cooked in a traditional oven; and a small selection of Middle Eastern grocery items.

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