Fresh Family Cooking Stars At Mazzar Grill

Fresh, wholesome food is truly a family affair at the new Mazzar Grill in Halesite.

Zabie Mustafa, who works full-time as an architect during the week and helps his parents, Frank and Shaokira, on the weekends, launched the Middle Eastern-inspired eatery six weeks ago with hopes of sharing “fresh and honest,” simply-prepared cuisine, drawing inspiration from their roots in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The family came to the United States in the late 1970s.

“My parents had great food. My dad learned all these traditions that were passed down in our family,” he explained.

Zabie said his parents did some small-scale catering before opening the restaurant at 106 New York Ave., right across the street from Prime and just up the road from the waterfront.

While the restaurant is primarily designed for grab-and-go dining, stick around and you’ll hear freshness happen as the sizzle of the grill brings their delicious cuisine to life. Nothing is frozen and nothing is fried, and the focus is on simple, honest ingredients right down to the imported, sugar-cane Coca-Cola sodas in the cooler.

Lentil soup ($5) is an excellent starter – hearty and spicy thanks to chili powder and a touch of jalapeno. The big slices of fresh carrot found within are a nice touch.

Frank says their prepared-to-order Chicken Kebabs ($11.95) are their top seller, and it’s little surprise why. Marinated for 12 hours in garlic, onion, chili powder, a little lemon juice and hot sauce and topped with Middle Eastern sumac, the end result, in a word, is fabulous – the delightfully moist and tender medallions burst with citrusy flavor that alternately hints at teriyaki and sweet barbecue.

On the bone rotisserie chicken ($11.95 whole, $9.95 half, $8.50 breast/wing, $7.50 leg/thigh) offers a similar treatment but with a more pronounced cracked-pepper flavor.

Sides include homemade spinach ($5) with red bell pepper, garlic, onion and green onions and cilantro; simple brown basmati rice ($4); sweet spiced black beans; and creamy homemade hummus, ($5) paired with hot naan, and check out the creamy dill sauce, a perfect pairing for the bread or just about anything else.

Even the side salad ($4) is done with attention to detail, evident by the thin-sliced cucumbers, shredded greens, fresh tomatoes and feta, topped in a spicy homemade vinaigrette. If you’ve just gotta have fries, Roasted Potato Wedges ($4) stand in admirably, dressed up with a touch of sweet barbecue sauce and dill.

Frank says to keep an eye on their menu, which he expects will change and evolve with some regularity. It’s very simple right now, giving them plenty of room to expand and explore. And with the great introduction they’ve made, we’re very excited to see what they whip up as time goes on.