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Review: Zaytune Mediterranean Grill

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 2, 2010 5:00PM

Recently it seems as though the foundation for something of a dining renaissance has been laid in, of all places, Bridgeport. And it's about damn time that it was. The success of HAN 202 and Nana have shown that there was a void needing filling. that both of these restaurants have attracted interested patrons from all corners of the city also stands as testament to the power of a good review.

Now another restaurant joins the ranks of Nana and Han 202, filling a void and keeping its menu simple and accessible for locals and visitors to the neighborhood. Owner/chef Daniel Sarkiss keeps the menu at his Zaytune Mediterranean Grill simple, with a few of nods to invention, reminding you that this isn't a typical fast food joint.

I'll start with Zaytune's chicken and steak shawarmas. Instead of the standard spun and fire-roasted spindle meat, Sarkiss marinades his shawarma in rosemary, allspice and garlic, then grills it. The pleasant impulse memory of charcoal from fire-roasting gives way to the immediacy of those sweet spices heated: Shawarma for Dummies, if you will. Served as a platter with basmati rice, homemade pickled vegetables (spiced liberally with the inclusion of jalapeno), and home made lavash, this dish satisfies. The vegetables are also available separately as a side dish.

Zaytune's falafel is perfectly textured — crusty on the outside, moist and fluffy inside — and seasoned with coriander and cumin. It's served on a wrap with that homemade flatbread with tahini and a fire-roasted tomato salsa that makes a creative replacement for the harissa spiced sauces of other Mediterranean restaurants. Red pepper hummus is made in house. On one of my visits I watched the grill cook roast the peppers, which was another surprise. Lentil soup was lightly seasoned, with a fine complement of vegetables hiding deep in a murky broth.

Zaytune Mediterranean Grill, 3129 S. Morgan, 773-254-6300. Open 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.