It didn’t seem right to lump Zizi Limona in with the recent Williamsburg batch. Partially because even though the newish Mediterranean-plus restaurant got
the Hungry City treatment and a Brooklyn Heatmap nod, whenever I pass by–maybe at the wrong times–I see a candlelit expanse of diner-less tables. And that’s just not right.
The above-mentioned plus is that it’s not just a falafel joint, something it might be getting unfairly pegged as. Recently when deciding where to eat with a group, I suggested Zizi Limona because it wasn’t likely to pose a seating trauma on a Saturday night. It was shot down with the supposition that a friend of a friend didn’t want kebabs because she’d just spent the past few years in Iraq. No arguments in this case–Williamsburg is rife with all-American food; fried chicken, burgers and bbq for miles–but the not wanting kebabs argument could be a problem. For what it’s worth, there are seven items in the section called Classic Big Zi’s (as opposed to less traditional Big Zi’s, Small Zi’s and salads) and only one involves kebabs, served with a mysterious sounding black babaganoush.
I may try the lamb eventually, but other dishes give a fuller picture of the border-crossing style. Take the Tershi, Jewish by way of Libya, a naturally sweet, gingery pumpkin mash grounded with cumin and stewed chickpeas. I don’t know anywhere else in NYC that serves it.
Or the bourekas, called here Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar, flaky pastry cylinders stuffed with non-traditional mozzarella and basil and moved eastward with almonds and honey.
A special featured chicken liver, rich, unadorned (I thought it might be coated and fried) and served with Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke, if you rather) two ways: pureed as a base and slivered and fried to a crisp as a garnish gone wild. Hit with thyme and Santorini vinegar, like a less sweet balsamic, this was about as far from a kebab as you could get.
Zizi Limona * 129 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, NY