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Zerza Reopens With a Little Indian Flair

IMG_0250Sarah Darville Radouane Eljaouhari beside his new clay tandoori oven.

When Radouane Eljaouhari moved into his new location on East Sixth Street, he told contractors clearing out a shuttered Indian restaurant to not completely gut the kitchen. Now, what was once a lark for Mr. Eljaouhari and his chefs at the new location of his Moroccan restaurant Zerza has turned into a permanent cross-cultural twist.

Instead of a traditional Moroccan grill, meat dishes are cooked in a clay tandoori oven leftover from Angon on the Sixth, which closed in 2010. (Another Indian restaurant briefly occupied the space after Angon).

The clay oven gets twice as hot as the Moroccan grill, and “makes the meat cook without burning it,” Mr. Eljaouhari said. “It’s juicy, and that’s not the case with the grill, where it touches the flame sometimes. So this is a treat.” Read more…

New Hookah Lounge Bubbles Up on First Avenue

photo(185)Daniel Maurer

The former home of Dana Falafel Shawarma Deli will be offering falafel again – and flavored tobacco, as well. In the next weeks, a hookah lounge will open in the modest storefront at 45 First Avenue, near Third Street.

Stu El-Boghdedy, the manager of the forthcoming Aziza (a girl’s name meaning “beloved” in Arabic) gave The Local a sneak peek into the 35-seat lounge decorated with Moroccan lanterns, fabrics and poufs. In addition to Egyptian water pipes, he said, he’ll be serving light appetizers such as hummus, falafel, grape leaves, and eggplant salad as well as non-alcoholic drinks such as Turkish coffee, mint tea served in ornate teapots, and salep, a sweet, hot milk drink.

Mr. El-Boghdedy said hookahs would go from $12 to $35 or $40, which raised the question: why are water pipes at the East Village’s numerous smoke dens so expensive, anyway? Read more…