Howdy folks, Journal News reporter Aman Ali here. As someone that lived in Morocco for six months in 2002 and has gone back four times since then, I had high hopes and expectations for the Morrocan restaurant Zitoune, located at 1127 W. Boston Post Rd.
And I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
For those who aren’t familiar with Moroccan culture, it’s a fun blend of Middle Eastern, French, Spanish and Portuguese traditions. I walked inside the place and twirled around (yes, twirled. like a fancy ballerina) to check out the fancy traditional Moroccan furniture and tiling that decorate the facility.
The place is run by chef and owner Alain Bennouna, who has run Zitoune (which is Arabic for the word “olive”) for around 3.5 years. He used to run a restaurant of the same name in Manhattan before deciding to move the business to Mamaroneck. He started me off with homemade olive bread and a butter infused with cilantro, oregano and parsley.
For the appetizer, I had shrimp cigars (think eggroll, but 20 times more awesome) with marinated shrimp and saffron rice inside. Between the two cigars are diced sweet carrots marinated in orange blossoms.
For the main course, I ordered my clutch dish I get at any Moroccan restaurant, lamb kafta tagine. Tagine is the ceramic pot the dish is cooked in. Lamb kafta is ground lamb blended with cumin, paprika, peppers and other spices that is stewed inside a bed of tomato sauce and garlic. What I liked was how the lamb kafta was served over an egg (other places I’ve eaten it over rice) which was a great way to bring the dish together.
Dessert and my thoughts after the jump
The meal came to a close with Moroccan crepes that had cranberries inside and spiced honey dripped on top of it. On the side was a small dish with blackberry ice cream.
Like I said, I know enough about Moroccan food to determine what isn’t good and what is. This is definitely one of the best Morrocan places I’ve eaten at in a heck of a long time. Eating the lamb kafta brought back memories of my neighbor in Marrakesh who used to cook the meal for me after spending the day helping her fix odds and ends around her house.
I cover Mamaroneck for the paper and pass by this restaurant almost daily. The only criticism I have is of myself, I can’t believe it took me this long to try this place.
The cool thing about Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is having fun and trying foods you’re not used to. While I’m sure there are great Mexican, Thai, Italian places around town, I can’t think of any other good Moroccan restaurants in the Westchester area. I’m probably going to come back again soon and try the duck because I heard it was even better than the lamb kafta.