Helmed by chef Mourad Lahlou (and named for Lahlou's mother), the restaurant first opened in 2001, and has been widely celebrated over the years for its Cal-Moroccan cuisine — it was the first Moroccan restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star (in 2010).
But after Lahlou opened his downtown restaurant Mourad (140 Montgomery St.) in 2015, Aziza faced a difficult crossroads. Lahlou closed the restaurant in early 2016 for what he thought would be minor repairs, only to discover it needed a major renovation.
As the building was gutted and the interior completely remodeled, Lahlou went back and forth over what to do with the space. For a time, he was planning to open a "Moorish-Mexican" restaurant called Amara. But he ultimately decided the best move was to revive Aziza.
On October 21 (a revised date since Lahlou's original announcement of October 14), Aziza will reopen with an entirely new look.
While the old restaurant was darker, with deep orange walls and windows inspired by Moroccan design, the new interior is light and modern, with white Venetian plaster paired with dark wood floors and accented by teal and plum-hued tiling.
The main dining room now has higher ceilings and more natural light, and the 15-seat curved bar has been given its own room, separate from the dining room.
The back room, now a private dining area, has plush green banquettes and palm-print wallpaper.
The menu will combine some favorite dishes from the old Aziza with newer items. From the old menu, diners can expect to see the chicken basteeya (phyllo dough pie) with almond and caramelized onion, the hand-rolled couscous and the beef cheek tagine with spiced root vegetable jam and preserved apricot.
New additions will include more shareable plates, both small and large.
The reincarnated Aziza will also offer brunch, with dishes like shakshuka with kefta meatballs, sweet potato, and spicy tomato, or Moroccan pancakes served with stone fruit compote and orange blossom butter.
“The food at Aziza will facilitate a communal environment, fostering a bond over the depth of flavors," Lahlou said in a statement. "My hope is that each dish sparks conversation.”
Aziza will be open seven days a week for dinner from 5:30-10 p.m., starting October 21. Brunch will be offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.