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East County Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 1 year ago

Lakewood Ranch dining scene gets a fresh look

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Zenobia offers flavors of the Mediterranean in Lakewood Ranch.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

When Yasser Moussa immigrated to Tampa from Dubai in 2014, he dreamed of opening a Mediterranean-style restaurant much like the one he owned in his homeland.

However, he didn’t find a suitable restaurant location and instead worked in the medical sales industry.

But his desire to own another restaurant never wavered.

Now his dream has been fulfilled.

He and Majdi Ismaile, who moved to the U.S. from Jordan and became friends with Moussa two years ago, have opened Zenobia Mediterranean & Kebab Grill, in Lane Plaza II in Lakewood Ranch. The restaurant held its grand opening Dec. 9.

Moussa, who lives in Tampa, said they select the best in lamb and beef, and they make everything fresh.

“It’s a family business,” he said. “We don’t want to make anything that’s not perfect. We make healthy food.”

Ismaile, who has lived in Ellenton the past eight years, agreed.

“Our food is fresh,” Ismaile said. “We don’t have anything precooked, and we use a lot of olive oil.”

Zenobia offers recipes compiled from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, among others. The menu includes hummus and tabbouleh, kibbeh (bulgar shell stuffed with minced beef and pine nuts), kafta (meatballs), lamb chops and a variety of kebabs.

They have one small freezer, which essentially keeps chicken nuggets and french fries for kids meals. The baklava, a dessert made from phyllo dough stacked with honey and nuts, is imported from Dearborn, Mich., because it’s complicated to make. Otherwise, all the ingredients are fresh.

Ismaile said many people have never experienced it before, and it’s definitely worth a try.

Moussa loves kafta — a type of meatball or meatloaf dish that in its simplest form consists of balls of minced or ground meat, usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork, mixed with spices and/or onions. He also enjoys the shish tawook, which is grilled boneless, skinless chicken pieces mixed with spices and served with rice.

Ismaile prefers kebabs.

“Anything kebob,” Ismaile said. “Like a hamburger is here, over there, it’s kebab.”

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.

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