There's a lot of good things happening at Zizi Limona, the newish Mediterranean / Middle Eastern spot in Williamsburg. First off, a couple of things to note. It's only wine and beer, but the wine spritzer, sangria-like, minty cocktail that I had the other night was a so pretty and refreshing, it hit the spot. There's outdoor seating, so add this to your spring al-fresco dining list. Also, it's really casual. I know plenty of Williamsburg restaurants can be described like Zizi as "cute and casual", but this place really is. From the little old world touches, to the "Pereg" spices for sale, or the graffiti bathroom wall, and the waitress with the sexy-adorable Brittany accent, the whole thing just works.
Zizi is Middle Eastern food, elevated to that next level. It's not strictly Israeli fare though, there are definitely influences here from Egypt, Morocco and that part of the world. We go way beyond falafel and tahini at Zizi (though their falafel was pretty awesome). I love that they do some interesting takes on the usual boring stuff, as in using a croisseant instead of pita bread or stuffing a cigar with cheese and honey instead of ground meat. For the most part, these variations work, and are precisely what makes Zizi not your average hummus bar. They don't take reservations, but as of now it doesn't seem to be too much of an issue getting in. The service is cheerful and pretty attentive, and overall the food was above average. We ordered a lot (of course), and I have to say that it was really pretty damn cheap too!
On to the food. From the "small zi's" section, we love the Shishito Peppers, with white bean sage and preserved lemon. Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar, is another awesome one. Stuffed with almonds, mozzarella cheese, basil and honey, it's just a big bite of deliciousness. I also love the Aunt Trippo's Falafels with charred onion and curry tahini sauce. The falafel here is bite size, freshly fried, and perfectly crisp. The Crazy Baba was just okay. Gravalax with curry yogurt sauce and fried cauliflower was kinda interesting though I don't know if I'd get it again, and the Grilled Eggplant, feta, arugula salad was light and refreshing.
Order the Fattoush Salad for sure. I love a good salad and this one comes with cherry tomatoes, grilled pita, olive tapenade, bulgarian feta cheese and za'atar spices. Perfect, just perfect. Zizi Hummus with grilled onions is worth getting and mixing with some of the other items, but I would probably pass on the Shakshuka (though it's quite possible I was just busting at this point and couldn't properly appreciate it). The Whole Grilled Fish, was memorable and excellent. Fresh grilled with some spices and fresh lemon, exactly how I like a good piece of fish.
I didn't find the desserts to be exceptional, and would probably stick with the food here. There was a take on Baklava, and something with Halva in it, and a special Chocolate Mousse, but nothing really stood out.
All in all, Zizi is a good find and amongst some of the more pretentious (annoying) spots in B-burg, this is definitely a winner. I liked it a lot. I probably won't run back in the very near future, but it's definitely a great addition to the area, and a nice solid spin on classic Middle Eastern cuisine.
Neighborhood: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Bite Mark: ***and a half
Good For: Brunch, Casual Date Night, Something a bit Different
Zizi Limona, 129 Havermeyer Street 347-763-1463 www.zizilimona.com