I probably wouldn't be making this post if I hadn't been so utterly charmed by Abraham Darian, the owner of Laziz, a six-month-old restaurant in Fort Lee.
Laziz (the name means "delicious" in Parsi), serves Persian cuisine, which (to judge from the items on the menu) lies on a continuum that runs from Greece and Turkey, through the central Asian cuisines of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to India.
The decor is suburban-elegant with green drapes, scalloped white curtains, chandeliers and artwork depicting scenes from the works of the Persian poet Hamez. It was also virtually deserted when we arrived this evening (a Sunday).
The warm unleavened Persian flatbread ("barbari" I think they said) was yummy, served with a saucer of red-pepper-flecked olive oil.
We tried the mantu, steamed dumplings stuffed with chopped spiced beef and topped with a schmeer of minted yogurt and a nice tomato sauce. They reminded me of the lamb-stuffed manty of Uzbekistan. The other starter was ash reshteh, a green vegetable and noodle soup garnished with fried, almost caramelized onion, mint and a dollop of kashk, which is a "whey sauce." If I caught the explanation correctly, it's made from dried yogurt which is then reconstituted. The soup was quite tasty, although the chick peas and kidney beans in it seemed an afterthought that did not add much to the flavor.
Of the main courses, the salmon kebab special was excellent, although the green rice that accompanied it was rather odd tasting. The albalo polow featured chicken kebab chunks arrayed around a mound of basmati rice laced with a sour cherry sauce. The chicken was juicy (not always a given with this kind of dish) and the rice grew on me.
The above meal, with a bottle of Pellegrino, came to $48.81 before tip. I have a feeling I would have liked it more if the bill had been less.
My wife and I got the feeling that the appetizers here are probably a better bet than the entrees which are largely kebabs. There's a tempting appetizer sampler plate for $19.95
Although the menu seems to blend influences -- their take out menu says "fine creative Persian cuisine & (Middle Eastern)" -- Laziz seems to try for a certain authenticity. Abraham, the owner, told me he worked on developing the menu and that the chef is Iranian.
I'm not sure I'll go back, but if I do it will be to try the $13.95 all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet (noon to 4) or to split the appetizer sampler. Or maybe to try one of the "stews" which are about $10.
Much of the menu is reminiscent of the far superior Kervan, the Turkish place in Cliffside Park, but Laziz may have some hidden treasures lurking in the menu. If you find any let me know.
Laziz is tucked away at 89 Main Street, where it curves south to join River Road, which may explain why it was so deserted. There's a parking lot and entrance on the River Road side. The phone is (201) 461-9339. In addition to the aforementioned takeout, they do catering. I seriously doubt that reservations are ever necessary.
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