A tasty culinary mélange at Zouave
Zouave mingles classic Italian cuisine with North African flavors, hearty portions and deft spicing, in a pleasant Ravenna neighborhood setting.
Seattle Times theater critic
2615 N.E. 65th St., Seattle; 206-525-7747 or zouaverestaurant.com
Hours: 5-10 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday
Etc.: Major credit cards, beer and wine available, street parking.
An Italian bistro with an Algerian twist and French accents? That is the uniqueness of Zouave’s dinner house, which opened last year on a quiet block of 65th St. N.E., in a storefront vacated by a popular former neighborhood eatery, Casa d’Italia.
Welcoming and unpretentious, Zouave (named after elite French Army units of North African soldiers) serves moderately priced, carefully prepared food crafted by Algerian owner-chef Abel Hadjal, whose experiences working in Italy have greatly informed his cuisine. In a small kitchen within the dining room, he whips up Italian and a few North African classics, perfuming the air with garlic and spices, and warmly greeting regular diners and newcomers.
The menu: Generous portions are the rule here, from the mixed salads ($5-$7) and daily choice antipasto ($8), to the pasta dishes ranging from the vegetarian penne primavera ($11.50) and the gnocchi (potato dumplings) in a creamy basil pesto sauce ($13) to such filling entrees as a rich, tomato-based seafood stew similar to a cioppino ($14.50), and a hearty chicken Marsala served with pasta and vegetables ($13.50). There are also daily appetizer and entree specials.
What to write home about: Zouave’s couscous Dahlia ($13) is a distinctive treat, a deftly spiced North African mélange of vegetables and either chicken or merguez (Morocco lamb sausage), served with a mound of fluffy couscous. Also excellent: the eggplant parmigiana, well-breaded and savory, cloaked in the tasty house marinara sauce and served over polenta ($12.50).
The setting: The pleasant indoor dining area has about a half dozen small tables, which can be configured to accommodate larger parties, and there is summer outdoor seating on the back patio.
Summing up: A Zouave salad ($7), a couscous Dahlia ($13), an eggplant parmigiana ($12.50) and for dessert an order of decadently rich Tiramisu ($6) came to $42.54 and served two well.
Misha Berson: email@example.com