Written by on February 13, 2013 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Northwest Wasington, DC

How I heard of this place: My friend, and fellow gourmand, Eamon, first tooted the horn of Zaytinia. Since then, I have heard the name from many a friend, colleague and foodie acquaintance. It’s high time we shared the love of Zaytinia, and Restaurant Week made for the perfect excuse!


Type of cuisine: Under the direction of celebrated chef José Andrés and hisThinkFoodGroup, Zaytinya offers an innovative mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines served up in a sleek and modern setting. Building on Jose’s deep knowledge of Mediterranean cooking and years of research and travel, the menu features shared small plates of authentic and innovative fare, creative cocktails, and unique Mediterranean wines, making Zaytinya one of the most exciting restaurants in Washington. Since opening in 2002, Zaytinya ranks consistently as a Top DC Dining Destination.”

Z Menu

Mezze are the small plates of the Eastern Mediterranean, known regionally as meze, maza or mezethes. Under the direction of James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés, Zaytinya’s menu reflects the rich regional diversity of classical Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine. Starting with authentic ingredients and traditional techniques, Zaytinya’s talented chefs create original and unexpected dishes that bring these regional cuisines to a level never before experienced, even in their home countries.

Though the plates are small, each is meant to be shared. Often thought of as party food, the small plates style of dining encourages socializing—a drink, a little conversation, and a few mezze shared by friends and family. The experience allows everyone to sample a wide variety of excellent spreads and cheeses, vegetable, meat, poultry and seafood mezze, and creative desserts. Plus, traditional coffees and teas complete the experience.

In addition, Zaytinya’s wine list is the only in the U.S. to feature only the wines of the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. This region has quietly emerged on the world stage to compete with the established wine producing countries, with tremendous variety, value, and quality. And there’s nowhere better to taste them for yourself and learn why. Combined with an exceptional and creative cocktail program, the Zaytinya bar is a destination in itself.”

Ambiance: Classy, elegant, simple, sleek and expansive. The floor to mile-high-ceiling windows look out onto the corner of G Street and 9th Street in the Northwestern quadrant of DC. The rain sprinkling onto the wet pavement outside made for a romantic dinner…among 200 of our closest (and loudest)  friends. The kitchen to our right, the sleek bar separating it from the seating area in which we were seated, and a loft space for additional seating creating a very novel and neat experience.

Z EVOO&Vinegar

What I ordered: We were excited and eager to partake of the prix fixe menu from Restaurant Week, and sample five courses – each – of what Zaytinia had to offer. It was recommended that we consider family style dining, sharing each of the small plates, delivered as prepared. And that is exactly what we did.

First Course: Hommus – a puree of chickpeas, garlic and tahini;


and Fattoush – a small salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion, green bell pepper, radish and pita chips tossed in a pomegranate vinegar dressing.


Second Course: Shish Taouk – grilled chicken thigh, sumac, red onions, garlic tuom and grilled cherry tomatoes;

Shish Taouk

and Seared Salmon – Samke Harra-style with coriander, cardamom, pickled Lebanese chiles, pine nuts and tahini sauce.


Third Course: Keftedes Kapama – beef meatballs swimming in a rustic tomato sauce with feta cheese, cinnamon and allspice;


and Adana Kebab – skewered ground lamb, house-made harissa, grilled cherry tomatoes, sumac and red onions.

Adana Kebab

Fourth Course: Piyaz – imported warm giant beans, kale, oven-roasted tomato and garlic in a creamy dill sauce;


and Urfa Biftek – grilled sirloin, Urfa pepper, Gaziantep-style ezme salata with tomato, peppers, cucumber and pomegranate molasses.

Urfa Biftek

Dessert:  Greek Yogurt & Apricots – muscat soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet, pistachio powder;

Apricot Yogurt

and Turkish Delight – walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelee, orange-caramel sauce, caramelized pine nuts.

Turkish Delight

What I loved: Despite the uber-salty food and the extra gamey smell/taste of the lamb and dry meatballs, we did enjoy our filling meal. My favorites of the evening: Fattoush salad, Seared Salmon, Shish Taouk, in that order.  I also adored the freshly baked, hollow pita bread that was served alongside our meal, and replenished regularly to enjoy with olive oil and vinegar, hommus, and the rest of the meal.

Why I loved it: The space is huge, the high ceilings magnificent, the simplicity of decor welcome and the loft-area novel. I adored that our table was bussed every few minutes, ensuring full glasses of water, no empty/dirty dishes remaining for more than a few seconds, and pita bread continuously offered.

Cost: High ($5.50 – $16.50 per mezze)

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