CUISINE / RESTAURANT REVIEWS Downtown Media Event Mediterranean Tastings Vancouver

Laziza Modern Mediterranean – A Tasting Event

Update: This restaurant is now called Bellaggio Laziza Restaurant.

I was fortunate enough to be among some fellow bloggers invited to a tasting event held by a new-ish Mediterranean restaurant on Davie – Laziza.

Just to give a bit of background on the restaurant, according to the press release, the menu is inspired by the regional classics from Lebanon, Morocco, Greece and Italy, but with a twist of course.  They also seem to use quality ingredients as free-range, hormone-free tenderloin beef, chicken and lamb, and many organic ingredients (but don’t mistake that as the whole dish being organic though…just certain components).

Now after reading that I would think their prices would be pretty up there, but if you take a look at their menu you’ll realize they’re not.  Now does that mean the quality and taste of the food are not up to par?  I’ll soon find out.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: bar

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: interior

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: interior

As you can see the decor is definitely modern.  It certainly had touches of the Mediterranean with its blue and brown/tan theme.  It was very welcoming and inviting.  It didn’t hurt that it was such a sunny day either~

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Pomo MojitoGot some drinks to start with.  My companion Pretty Sis got a pale ale while I went for something less simple- the Pomo Mojito.  It was refreshing as a mojito should be, with lots of mint.  Not too sweet, and the soft pink color was a definitely plus for me.

However, Pretty Sis’ beer was disappointing.  The simple Granville Island was actually served without being cold enough.  Now it wasn’t warm but let’s just say the outside of the glass didn’t condense.  We addressed that with the General Manager and she explained it could be because it was from a new keg.

But still…that type of “mistake” shouldn’t have happened in the first place anyways right?

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Crispy pita chips with salsa

So the carb that they serve you when you sit down is Crispy Pita Chips made from fresh pitas, served with a type of spicy salsa.

The pitas were very light and delicately seasoned.  It was a bit greasy though, but I guess that comes with the territory of freshly fried chips.  The salsa I found had a nice kick to it, but then my tolerance for spiciness is pretty low so any hint would’ve become a “kick” for me anyways.  It was very substantial though.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Baba Ghanouj

The Baba Ghanouj was one of my favorites of the tasting.  It’s blended with tahini (a type of sesame sauce) and lemon juice then topped with fresh pomegranate seeds which added a touch of sweetness to it.  It was smooth, creamy, with a slight smokey taste to it.  There were some gelatinous chunks in it which I will assume to be eggplant.

This was served with fresh mini pitas which were so soft and fluffy I really liked them.  On the side was pickled cabbage but I found that too sour.  A touch of sweetness would’ve did them good in my opinion.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Crispy Cauliflower

Crispy Cauliflower was next.  I’ve always liked cauliflower so I knew I would like this.  Plus it was deep-fried.

The florets actually tasted very meaty, if that’s even possible.  There was a nice chew to them and a plus was that despite being deep-fried, this was not greasy at all.

It was served with again a tahini dipping sauce.  However I found it too sour although Pretty Sis liked it.  It’s supposed to be a sesame based sauce but I did not find hints of sesame flavor.  Perhaps I’m just too used to the Asian version.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Saffron Prawns

The Saffron Prawns were large and “springy”, with a nice charcoal flavor.  Sometimes restaurants overly salt them but this was ok.  However, aside from those attributes, this really wasn’t especially exciting.  The saffron aioli was uneventful and not very flavorful of saffron.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Maqanik Lamb Sausages

Now the Maqanik Lamb Sausages were another one of my favorites, as I love anything lamb.

This was served atop a candle heated element.  The sausages were made in-house and was very gamey.  The broth tasted like pure butter.  And I bet it was.  Lemon butter to be exact.  The capers added a tartness to it which I think was meant to cut down on the gaminess, but the butter made this really rich.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Scallops with orange reduction

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Scallops with orange reduction

The Scallops were served with an orange reduction.  Now for the scallops themselves, they were pretty big and heavy, very fleshy.  Cooked to a perfect doneness as you can see above, with a soft centre.  However Pretty Sis and I both thought they weren’t caramelized enough, and the natural sweetness that should come with fresh scallops weren’t there, at least I couldn’t detect it.  We also thought the sweet reduction didn’t match with scallops.

I just realized I had forgotten to take a picture of the Fatoush Salad.  The server told us that this was one of their more unique salads due to the use of sumac leaves, which are supposedly like coriander.  Now to me coriander = cilantro and I love cilantro, so I was excited about this one.

However it tasted more like parsley, and I don’t like parsley.  Nonetheless, this salad is unique in that it is flavored with the leafy greens instead of all the taste coming from the salad dressing (which was lemon olive oil).

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Turkish Delight Martini and Sangria

I was onto my second drink by now.  This time I chose the Sangria.  It wasn’t as fruity as I would’ve liked it but the balance of sweetness and “booziness” was managed very well.  It was one of the better ones I’ve had lately.

Then, before we finished our second drinks, they passed around their signature martini- The Turkish Delight.  The menu described it as “Black pepper infused with vodka, fresh strawberry and a splash of Grand Marnier”.  We both thought the wording should’ve been “Vodka infused with black pepper” but they insisted.

Anyways like a typical martini this was close to straight up vodka.  The black pepper infusion tasted more like licorice to me but the fresh strawberries really added a nice fragrance to it.  But martinis really aren’t my drinks as they are way too bitter so I did not finish this.  But if it’s your thing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Stuffed Chicken Prawn with saffron sauce

Next was another one of their signature dishes, the Stuffed Chicken Prawn.  It is basically  prawn wrapped with chicken breast, topped with saffron sauce.

We found the chicken to be too dry, likely due to its thickness and the fact that it was the breast part.  Both meats kind of overtook each other so in eating it it just kind of mashed together.  As for the sauce, a hint of saffron was detectable but it was more of a coconuty curry.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Lamb Chops

The Lamb Chops, however, were a different story (Alright alright…I might be slightly biased towards lamb in general…).  Marinated in rosemary and thyme, these were grilled to a medium well while still leaving them extremely tender.  Pretty Sis would’ve preferred them more if they were a medium rare though, but I was satiated.  They were well-seasoned, with hints of mint and a charcoal flavor.  Yum yum!

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Chicken Bedovin

The last dish they brought out was the Chicken Bedovin, cooked and served in a tagine, it had sauteed chicken breast on top of couscous and an assortment of fruits and nuts.

Laziza Modern Mediterranean: Chicken Bedovin

But I thought this was much too sweet to be an “entree”.  The figs and honey were a nice touch but mixed with the chicken I just found it weird, as a main.  I did love the figs by themselves though.  The chicken strips, however, were again dry.

But maybe that’s how Mediterranean cuisine is.  I’ll have to find out more.  Overall I did enjoy the things Laziza has to offer and combined with the friendly pricing, I’m sure I’ll be back.

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