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Zitoune restaurant report: Mamaroneck

  • s

After reading the very good review this new Moroccan restaurant in Mamaroneck, we decided to give it a try last night. It was a very disappointing experience. First, when we arrived for our reservation at 7:00, we were told that our table would be ready soon. We waited 10 minutes, only to be sat at a table that had been sitting there empty the entire time. We ordered our meals and wine. 20 minutes passed, and we had no wine-- nor did we have bread or filled water glasses. We asked about the wine. Our waiter disappeared, but 10 minutes later, still no wine. We asked again, and were told they were "looking for the wine." When our red wine finally came, it was highly chilled. Not exactly appealing on a cold night.

We continued to wait for our appetizer. We had been seated for over 45 minutes when the "codfish nuggets" finally appeared. Four miniscule fried pieces of fish, about the size of quarters. Tasty, but a ridiculous portion size. We then commenced our wait for our entrees. We waited. And waited. The people next to us who had come in later were already eating dessert. The waiter was nowhere to be seen. Finally, I spoke with the manager or owner (not sure which). About 5 minutes later, the entrees were served. I had sea bass with a side of cous cous. The cous cous tasted not significantly different than the boxed stuff in stores. The fish had an off taste. My husband's short ribs were good, served with cous cous. But it was not a dinner worth waiting for.

The manager was sort of apologetic, but his only explanation was, "I have no explanation." To his credit, he did offer to comp us dessert, but by that time we were eager to leave. The place was pretty crowded, I'm sure due to the recent Times review. But based on our experience, and some of the negative comments we heard from diners around us, I'd be surprised if Zitoune is able to do well without making some significant changes.

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  1. I hadn't seen the Times review and have been wondering about Zitoune. Was planning to post to ask if anyone had been yet. I was so hoping it was good. Bummer.

    1. Thanks for posting this review. It's really too bad it didn't live up to the times review!

      1. I feel I have to add my bad experience here. Went the other night and ordered a vegetable cous cous dish. Honestly, it was like a pile of OK cous cous cooked in broth. Not seasoned especially well. The service was very scattered. I have no idea what the good reviews are based on.

        1. My wife and I went at least three of four weeks before that NY Times review and we really enjoyed everything. Went in the middle of the week. The place was about half filled, and everybody was nice and on the job. That NY Times review was probably the equivalent of a tidal wave. It's probably a good idea to wait until things settle down a bit, so they can resume their focus. It's weird how reviews can be both a blessing and a burse.

          1. I live within walking distance of Zitoune and have been there a few times - but apparently not since the Times review. There weren't many people when I went.

            The first time I went I got a simple couscous with vegetables and it was terrible. Dry and no flavor. My companion got a dish consisting of a chunk of lamb in a clay pot and he said it was delicious. The second time we went there was a belly dancer. I got a sort of chicken salad with olives that was excellent. My companion also enjoyed his dish (can't remember what it was). All in all, I have mixed feelings about the place. I think I'll go again before making my final decision.

            1. Actually, he did not come voluntarily to our table to apologize. He knew we hadn't gotten served in over an hour, and was avoiding eye contact with us like the plague. He only came after I called him over, and his attitude when we did speak was not one of great concern. I don't know how else to phrase this. I respect that people here had different experiences than I did, but I have no need to "go and google zitoune" since I had my own experience there.

              1. google zitoune to get a review from ..... the rye record?

                1. FYI - Zitoune started in Manhattan but is now closed. Had some good press for the Manhattan location. Google brings up the old NYC stuff too and the Zitoune Mamaroneck menu has quotes from reviews that were for the other restaurant - disingenuous imo.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: laylag

                    yes--my point exactly. reviews for the zitoune in mamaroneck are few and far between. i totally agree that putting the NYC reviews on the menu is misleading...

                    1. re: cervisiam

                      has anyone gone to Zitoune since February?? I"m bringing a group there to check it out.. but now am concerned about whether the food will be edible or not..

                      1. re: swept

                        Most dishes were pretty salty but many were very good. The atmosphere is nice. The tagine was good but the cornish hen not so much. My favorite middle eastern in the area is turkish meze.

                        1. re: Sambossanova

                          turkish meze is amazing. make sure to make reservations!

                  2. Two nights ago I brought a group of 16 to Zitoune, and oh man!! this was an just amazingly wonderful experience! I don't know why there's been so many negative reviews of this place, (perhaps they were overwhelmed by the response to the review) but this is what I have to say about this place:

                    Everything about this place was wonderful, classy, and beautiful -- the interior makes you feel like you've been swept away to the exotic land of Morocco, the gracious hostess made us feel like we were visiting her home, and the food - OMG - this was the best part - wonderful mixtures of sweet and savory, meat that fell off the bone, and stews that were a party in your mouth..

                    Our table of five had a variety of apps and entrees - ranging from mussels in broth, to breaded and fried lemony sardines (YUM) to the duck B'steeya (duck in puff pastry). Entrees included a lamb tangine, lamb shanks w/cinamon & other warm spices, Beef short ribs with a cumin-scented sauce, Bass filet with couscous, raisins & dates, and a vegetable tagine. Other tables had similar mixtures of entrees, and everyone was wowed... the drinks were good too - very unusual and refreshing - such as a gin & compari mixture, a cranberry margarita, and a gin & tonic w/muddled lime...

                    This is one place that I"ll definitely return to again and again!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: swept

                      Yay !. That is great to hear. We've been avoiding it because of the bad reports on this board although we did cough up $10 bucks to try some of the appetizers from their street stand at the Harbor Festival and they were quite tasty. I am "so there" now. Can't wait to go just have to figure out a free evening.

                      Swept, can you say where it stands in terms of kid (7 year old) friendly? Or is it better for a "date night", couples w/out kids or group of friends kind of place?

                      1. re: laylag

                        I'd say that this is best as a "date night" or with groups of adult friends, rather than a really "kid - 7 yr old" friendly place... There was a bit a lag between our order and when the food arrived, but we made up for that with conversation and drinks.. I'd think that a 7 yr old might get too figidty during this time.. .. but then again, I don't know your child.. :)

                        Have fun !

                    2. I just got home from dinner at Cafe Zitoune. We had friendly but not overly attentive staff. The cocktails were wonderful. We also had a cold soup, duck bisteeya, sauteed chicken breast and a lamb tagine. It was a fine dinner in a lovely restaurant. i would recommend it, and I will definitely eat there again.