My husband and I had spent most of the day at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show at the Cow Palace. Not wanting to drive back up to the East Bay in Friday commute traffic, we drove down towards the Peninsula in search of a culinary adventure. I had read that the restaurant had recently opened so we decided to check it out.
When we walked inside, the first thing my husband noticed was the Lebanese pizza oven. I might have noticed it on my own if I were tall enough to see over the counter, but I did manage to position my camera to take a picture of it.
I am familiar with some Mediterranean dishes listed on their menu (hummus, baba ghanouj, fattoush, tabbouleh) but not with the wraps and manakeesh. We asked our server for guidance so we could try something different. We ended up ordering the moussakaa, foul moudamas, homemade soujouk wrap, and the medium-sized kafta mankoushe pizza.
A basket of grilled homemade pita bread accompanied the mezzas. The moussakaa was a mixture of eggplant, garbanzo beans cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic and crushed mint. Every bite was full of flavor. I had to restrain myself from licking the plate. I settled for scooping everything up with a slice of bread. Next came the foul moudamas, simmered fava beans flavored with lemon juice, garlic and topped extra virgin olive oil. The texture was very creamy and the lemon juice balanced the flavors nicely.
We had a few minutes rest before the homemade soujouk wrap arrived. Ground beef flavored with strong herbs, garlic sauce, tomatoes and pickles, grilled so the wrap had a wonderfully crunchy texture. My mouth was dancing with delight at the new flavors and textures. I was enjoying an Almaza (Lebanese) beer when the pizza landed on our table.
Ground beef with chopped parsley, onions and Lebanese spices, on a thin crust. The edge of the pie was carefully pleated at the edges and was very pretty. Lemon wedges were served with the pizza and we were directed to squeeze it over the slices as we ate. The beef was well spiced, and the lemon juice a nice addition to the overall flavor. We had ordered the medium knowing we wouldn't be able to finish it all and ended up taking half the pizza home.
We were sighing with contentment when our server asked if we had room for dessert. The choices were cheesecake, rice pudding, or custard. We chose rice pudding. It was sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with chopped pistachio nuts. It was quite good, creamy with a hint of rose or orange water, and not too sweet. To go with it, he had a cup of coffee, I had the mint tea.
In my eyes, the portions they serve are generous for two. Our order could have easily fed three! Our dining experience came to under $50. We will likely go back again, next time with a friend or two.
Sahaara has been open only a few weeks. The décor is very nicely done. There are couple of flat-panel televisions mounted up on the wall if you are inclined to watch. When we arrived, they had a nice jazz compilation that transitioned to Middle Eastern music playing in the background but it did not interfere with conversation.
The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife team. Stephanie manages the dining area while her husband does all the cooking. He trained at a culinary school in Lebanon and brought his talents here. They are both warm and friendly people.
While they do not have a vegetarian wrap listed on the printed menu, I would say that about half the menu is vegetarian. They also have a menu board near the front (which I completely missed!) that lists a soup and special of the day, and desserts.
I think it is worth a trip to Burlingame, to give this new restaurant a try.
Mezzas: $4.50 - $5.50
Salads: $2.99 - $7.25
Wraps: $5.99 - $6.50
Lebanese Manakeesh (pizza): $7 - $16 (medium 14”)
Traditional pizza: $11 – 16 for (medium 14”)
Sahaara Mediterranean Pizza & Cuisine
1130 Broadway, Burlingame, CA 94010