La Zerza – LOST GEM
Radouane Elijaouhari worked as the Manager of the illustrious Plaza Hotel in Midtown before opening Zerza as a family-owned business. He came to New York in 1997 and has since cooked to connect his customers with the flavors of traditional Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine. “Moroccan food is not as spicy as people here think it is. Our flavors come from the aromatic herbs, not hot spices,” Raduoane pointed out. Zerza’s most popular dishes use slow-cooked vegetables flavored with caramelized onions and the restaurant’s much-loved harissa sauce.
I was thrilled by how the golden lights lent a cozy ambience to this restaurant, but noticed that it was also the closeness of the staff and their customers that offered the place a charming intimacy. Raduoane was chatting with a Moroccan family from the neighborhood when I stepped in. When he told me that his mom sometimes cooks in the kitchen, I realized that Zerza was a family-oriented restaurant in the truest sense.