Published May 11. 2013 9:45PM Updated May 11. 2013 10:47PM
I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it.
If you thought you had to go all the way to New Haven or New York for great falafel and Mediterranean food, you're wrong, and here's why.
Lazizah Bakery in Yantic.
If you've never heard of Lazizah, it's probably because it's in Yantic. Yantic is this little tiny part of Norwich, off a busy connector where Routes 2 and 32 split. There's not much reason to make that turn into West Town Street. And it's too bad, because, have I mentioned these falafels?
Made from scratch, they're fried to order, so be prepared to wait for your meal. While you wait, browse the humbly sized bakery bursting with Mediterranean offerings (tahini, spices, lentils, the yogurt cheese labneh). Tempt yourself with the prepared goods and sweets, which range from the traditional (baklava, spinach pies) to the American (peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies). The single-serve tiramisus were not what I was expecting at a Lebanese bakery, but they looked pretty amazing.
Back to the falafels. I'm not sure what kind/s of beans they used - the menu just says they're made with "pureed beans" - but the crunchy-yet-crumbly fried vegetarian balls, made with onions, garlic and fresh herbs, did not disappoint. Topped with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, scallions, pickled turnips and tahini sauce, they came wrapped in a warm, fresh pita and were, excuse the cliche, bursting with flavor. We ate greedily on the serene and surprisingly expansive stone patio overlooking the Yantic River.
I don't know how many times I've come across Lazizah owner Iffat Salahi at Fiddleheads on a Saturday morning and enjoyed the spinach pies he sold, yet never thought to make the drive up to Norwich to explore the other items on his menu. Silly me. Of course I'll be back for more. I need to try the garlic chicken (rotisserie chicken, garlic sauce, pickled cucumbers). The gyro. The babaghannuj (roasted eggplant spread). The turkey with tangy sauce and almond pesto on foccacia bread. The tiramisu, even.
And that's not even getting into half the menu.
But wait! There's more. The falafel was just $5.99 - the same price it was in 2008, the last time we reviewed the place.