The Hidden Geary Gem “Aziza” Awaits

Jeannine Abusharkh
Staff Writer

Graduation is quickly approaching and now that seniors have their caps and gowns in hand, it is time to book that special graduation dinner. Grab your parents (and their credit cards) and head down Geary boulevard to Aziza, a Michelin star restaurant offering modern Moroccan cuisine with a fresh California flare.

FoodThe word aziza means “something meaningful or precious” in Arabic, and the dining experience at Aziza Restaurant is something special, a wonderful option for a post grad dinner. Aziza embodies the spices of a Moroccan souq with their repertoire of dishes. Executive Chef and Owner Mourad Lahlou brings authenticity into his cooking from start to finish. On my first trip to Aziza, friends and I were whisked away to a magical room draped in sultry fabrics with ambient lighting. As I was seated, I completely forgot that just outside the doors were the foggy streets of the Inner Richmond. Charmed by the waiter and his enthusiasm regarding the bold cocktail menu, I ordered the red bell pepper cocktail. To my amusement the red colored concoction was made with Rye, Cocchi Americano and Bonal. The aperitif-infused cocktail (meant to spark the appetite) was reminiscent of tomato juice but was toned down with a slightly citrus taste.

The quality of service continued as our server highlighted the specials of the day like the locally caught halibut fish. We started our North African taste bud tour with the spread starter. The platter, served with warm flatbread, came with three puréed dips along with sliced Persian cucumbers. The first spread was a refreshing yogurt dill dip drizzled with olive oil. The next was a piquillo pepper almond dip that had a smoky bite to it. The third spread was my favorite, a traditional hummus prepared with earthy turmeric.

After the superb starter, I was anticipating couscous just as much as I was dying to try my friend’s lamb shank. The couscous was elegantly displayed in a rustic bowl and topped with curly parsley, pickled currants, toasted almonds, and orange zest, and roasted cauliflower. The highlight of the meal was the lamb shank that melted from the bone in a barley, prune, and saffron sauce. The large portion was enough to share and my friend so graciously let me have several morsels of the robust lamb dish. With drinks, the cost per person averaged $70, but the ambiance, service, and flavorful dishes were well worth the dining experience at Aziza.

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