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Apr 3, 2003 04:14 PM

Lotfi's is no more....

  • r

Lotfi's, which served excellent Moroccan cuisine on Restaurant Row for many years, has morphed into Capri, an Italian restaurant. According to an item in yesterday's "New York Times"' "Off the Menu" section, the chef/owner, Abdel Rebbaj, retired after 30 years behind the stove -- that included at a previous location before the restaurant moved to the Theater District -- and his son felt that, without his father, it would not be possible to maintain the high quality of the Morrocan food. Though I wish Mr. Rebbaj many happy years of retirement, it's a real loss to all those who, like myself, thoroughly enjoyed eating at Lotfi's.

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  1. Agreed. Thanks for keeping me/us from wandering up and down 46th Street looking for it in vain.

    1. I, too, was a huge fan of Lotfi's. I remember you (?) posting the restaurant's closure a while back , but subsequent posts indicated that it was temporary. I asked what others thought of Zitoune, and indicated that I had eaten there when it first opened and was not impressed. Now I hear that the owner was not happy with the food either and has been doing the cooking himself, which is supposed to be more authentically Moroccan. Anyone have any info on this place or, for that matter, any other good Moroccan restaurants, preferably in Manhattan? I had dinner in one on Ninth Ave. somewhere in the high 30's low 40's (can't remember exact street or even the name) which wasn't that good.

      Anyway, thanks for the sad update.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Rebecca BG

        Yes, there was a discussion sometime back about Lotfi's being temporarily closed, though I did not initiate it. Someone else found out that they were painting the interior. Now, it would appear that that was part of the prociess of morphing into its new Italian guise.

        I believe the Moroccan restaurant you went to is Tagine Dining Gallery, on 9th Av., btw 39th & 40th Sts. I have not eaten there, but most of the reports I've heard have been about the same as your experience -- disappointing. That's why I have not rushed to try it. I've never been to Zitoune either.

        1. re: RGR

          I like Tagine Dining Gallery a lot, but I don't have a great deal of experience with Moroccan food so I can't say if it's really authentic. (I've had much worse, I can tell you that.) Heard good things about Zitoune, haven't been yet.

          1. re: Ike

            My own experience at Tagine Dining Gallery (a Saturday night last year) made me think the owner was running the restaurant as more of a hangout for himself and his friends. Long on atmosphere, short on management. All these people kept coming to the bar and getting lavish greetings and it made for good theatre -- for a while.

            The food was ok, but the service and kitchen were extraordinarily and unaccountably slack. In fact, the experience made me appreciate Lotfi's, which had its act together.

      2. Given how far back these notices go, I guess i was delusionally hoping and praying that Lotfi's would re-emerge, So sad, so blue, such an oasis of perfectly prepared and presented Morroccan fare.....now just a mirage.


        1. Whoa! A blast from the distant past!

          While we still miss Lotfi's, we are thrilled that we now have Bistro Lamazou, which opened a few months ago in our neighborhood. The owners are from Morocco, and they have put together a wonderful Moroccan/Mediterranean menu. The Chicken Pastilla and the Couscous Royale I had during our dinner there a few weeks ago were seriously delicious!

          Bistro Lamazou photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...


          Bistro Lamazou
          344 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

          2 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            North African/Moroccan fair is the house specialty here, and we too were happy to have followed below linked thread to this place about a month ago. Their chicken tagine is best I've had in NYC including the boroughs; though bit heavy-handed with salt, the chef offered real authentic flavors that took me back to the days in Morocco.


            1. re: RGR

              I still have fond memories of Abdul when Lotfi's was on Cornelia Street in the Village...and his assistant, Abdel (may have been has cousin or brother) was a good cook, too.