A Work in Progress with Promise
We waited a few weeks for thing to shake down at the new neighborhood restaurant, Taverna Mazi. God only knows this neighborhood could use a good, affordable family restaurant.
The menu is divided into dips, salads small plates, and somewhat larger plates. We ordered off the dip, salad, and small plates portions. The Santorini dip is a winner: pureed yellow split peas, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. It's served with what appears to be two grilled pitas, sliced into wedges and liberally brushed with olive oil, perhaps too liberally, for eating out of hand. The waitress announced that our salad choice, the Kretan salata, was her favorite: grilled romaine with cherry tomatoes, grated sharp Greek sheeps milk cheese (otherwise unidentified), grilled pita chip croutons, and house dressing. What we got was a large whole head of romaine, lightly grilled, two cherry tomatoes, the grilled pita chips, a miniscule amount of dressing, and if the grated cheese was there, I didn't notice. Oh, and we got a large knife. This ended up being a very unwieldy dish and not very tasty since the things that were supposed to give it taste were provided in such small quantities. The component parts of the dish are good, but it needs more work.
We also ordered small plates of yigantes and braised lamb. If you've had the yigantes at Panos Kleftiko, you're used to a velvety tomato sauce. This sauce was more rustic in character with bits of cooked onion. Tasty and the beans were perfectly cooked. Given the choice, I still prefer Panos', but these were good. If you love lamb, you'll love the braised lamb--a goodly portion of shredded lamb, served with four olives and a few crumbs of feta (if you say you're going to top a dish with feta, I do think the diner is entitled to more than a few crumbs). The lamb was very tender, very flavorful, and the gamiest I had ever had. But being a lamb lover, I liked it very much.
The restaurant is loud. It has high ceilings with nothing to muffle the sound.
Mazi is a promising work in progress. Given the dearth of good Greek restaurants in this town, I'm hoping that the kitchen will get the kinks worked out and that Mazi will turn into just the kind of neighborhood restaurant Ravenna needs.