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photo credit: David A. Lee

Zou Zou’s image
8.3

Zou Zou’s

Mediterranean

Hudson Yards

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBusiness MealsDate NightImpressing Out of Towners
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When we see a menu that covers a lot of ground, it can make us nervous. It's hard enough to do one cuisine well, let alone several. Zou Zou’s in Manhattan West has dishes influenced by almost every North African and Eastern Mediterranean country—but, in their case, the menu's breadth and variety works like a mashup song you can't get out of your head. They use sauces and seasonings in surprising combinations, and by the end of your meal, you'll be inspired to mix and match more things in your life. (But mismatched socks are still dumb, so don't do that.)

As soon as you sit down at this upscale spot from the team behind Don Angie and Quality Eats, your server will probably tell you that the portions are big and that there’s no real distinction between entrées and appetizers. That’s why you should bring a group of friends, and share some subtly spicy, merguez-flavored lamb tartare (with some crunch from bulgur) and a refreshing fattoush with a thin layer of crispy pita bread that you crack apart like the top layer of a crème brûlée. Other highlights include the fresh and bright scallops with dehydrated raspberries and the well-balanced fluke with thin slices of pickled red radish. If you have to choose just one, we give the slight edge to the fluke, because of its vibrant, hunter green zhoug.

Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

The wood-fired hearth in the open kitchen is impossible to ignore, so you’ll want to try something from it (and you should). Get the plate of tender lamb chops that come with warmed cherries and charred onions that provide sweetness and smoke. Or, when the server starts describing the duck borek, just interrupt with, “Okay, we’ll take one of those.” It’s like a big pie in the form of duck sausage wrapped on all sides in a pastry crust, and it'll remind you very much of baklava. At some point—and we don’t care if it’s for dessert—order the hot kasseri cheese, which comes bubbling in a cast iron skillet before the server pours arak over it and lights the whole thing on fire. This dish is the archenemy of all lactose intolerant people, and, not to get gross, it’s worth whatever consequences may come.

Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

The high-ceilinged, glitzy dining room at Zou Zou's has a socialites-in-evening-wear grandness about it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll feel out of place having a casual get-together here. With a perpetually-packed room every night of the week, we can’t help but think that people who live and work in the area have been thirsting for a less-boring spot like this. The food at Zou Zou's is satisfying and creative, and when you walk out of this place, you'll start to look at random things in your life and think: "Maybe those things do go together." But getting drunk and texting your ex is still a no.

Food Rundown

Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Cured Local Fluke

Raw fluke is on every other menu we see, and it usually comes prepared with something acidic and ends up making us feel indifferent. But the slight kick from the zhoug makes this our go-to thing to start every meal here.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Fattoush

There are so many things that provide crunch in this refreshing fattoush, from the red cabbage and candied pecans to the red onions and huge, wafer-like disc of pita sitting on top. If you’re the type of person who hunts for croutons in salads, order this.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Dips

You’ll see dips on almost every table, and you'll start to get FOMO if you don’t order any. Our favorite is the green tahini with citrusy white foam, and the whipped ricotta with saffron-flavored apricots is something we’d gladly spread on lots of things for breakfast every morning. So if you’re in the mood for dips, get some. (You have to order a minimum of three.) Otherwise, they aren't a must-order.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Manti

Almost every culture has a dumpling (xiao long bao, momos, samosas, pelmeni, etc.). Who doesn’t like dumplings? Our point is, we recommend these deep-fried pouches that are stuffed with beef and served with oven-dried cherry tomatoes on top of garlicky labneh.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Hot Kasseri Cheese

We’re not going to try to get poetic when it comes to describing this dish. You know how you walk through the MoMA and some paintings just give you a visceral reaction? Look at the photo above. It either speaks to you, or it doesn’t.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Smoked Cherry Lamb Chops

Lamb chops with cherries and mint are nothing new, but neither are a cheeseburger and fries, and that doesn’t mean you don’t order those things all the time. This version comes from the very prominent open-fire cooking station, which results in a welcome charred and smoky taste. The open flames can cause some chops to be cooked unevenly, but you'll love the ones that come perfectly medium rare.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Duck Borek

Picture a sausage made with duck formed in a spiral covered in flaky pastry dough. That's what this dish is. It's cut into triangular pieces like a pie, and it’s one of two things that should definitely be on your table. (The other is the hot kasseri cheese.) The saltiness of the sausage, the crunch of the pistachios, and the bitter-sweetness of the sticky orange glaze all come together perfectly in each bite.
Zou Zou’s image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Rum-Marinated Grilled Pineapple

When you hear “grilled pineapple,” you might expect something warm—but this dish is very much cold, with a jet black, charred crust. Think of this dessert as a much more interesting version of the pineapple slices you ate straight out of a can when you were a kid (or last week).

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FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

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8.1

Shukette

Head to Shukette in Chelsea for labne, pita, and other Mediterranean dishes from the Levant region.

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Ci Siamo is an upscale Italian restaurant in Manhattan West with standout starters and pastas.

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8.4

Don Angie is a modern Italian restaurant in the West Village that’s best enjoyed with a small group.

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Like the other locations, Quality Eats in Nomad is a steakhouse for people who don’t want to feel like they’re eating in a country club.

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