by Laura Surma
501 Fell Street, formerly Apollo Market & Deli, has been reborn as Mazzat, a restaurant that sheds its dual convenience store/restaurant identity for contemporary foodie appeal at affordable prices. The cafe retains its unassuming charm but invites visitors to “sit, stay” as owner/operators Adam and Suzi Chamsine will tell you. In the short time since opening in December, Mazzat has achieved an impressive Yelp score of 4.5 stars out of 5 based on more than 20 reviews. Visitors speak fondly not only of the delectable Lebanese fare but also of the husband and wife team behind the restaurant. “Both of the owners are so warm,” one reviewer says. “Their mom makes the Lebanese food from scratch every morning, and you truly get the sense that this is a family enterprise. They’re attentive and conversational, good people.”
The name Mazzat is derived from the plural for “mazza” a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as dinner or lunch, with or without drinks. The menu encourages sampling–six mazza for $25 will serve two guests–and adding a beer or inexpensive glass of wine can complete the meal. Highlights include the chicken artichoke pita or sandwich, baba ghanoush, fried halloumi cheese, dolma, and kibbe. The Chamsines say that they plan to continue to grow the menu based upon response.
Although it welcomes lingerers with laptop power, Mazzat makes take out easy. It serves lunch every day as well as brunch on Sundays, and stays open relatively late for a casual dinner–until 10 pm on weekdays and 11 pm on Saturdays. The new restaurant’s evening glow contributes to the familiar Laguna Street vibrancy of Il Borgo, Momi Toby’s, Domo and Suppenküche. Stop in and say hello.