The Boston Phoenix
December 11 - 18, 1997

[Food Reviews]

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Zaatar's Oven

You can live by flatbread alone

by Danielle Svetcov

Zaatar's Oven, in Coolidge Corner, is a Mediterranean restaurant turning out flaky, warm bakery art in less time than it takes other joints to fry up rubbery burgers and slap them on listless buns. Zaatar's niche is kosher flatbreads -- decorated, herbed, and stuffed with everything from spicy cod to fresh blueberries. The 20-plus varieties are displayed in cake cases at the counter, grilled in the giant wood-fired oven (complete with logs and popping flames), and delivered, cafeteria-style, before you can change your order. And you will be indecisive at Zaatar's. The stuffed flatbreads, called sanbusak ($3.25 to $4.75), are better than calzones, greaseless, and jammed with savory concoctions: salmon, pesto, and saffron rice, for instance; or mushrooms, shallots, and a sheep's-milk cheese called cashkaval. The salads ($2.50 to $3.25), served with moist homemade pita (garlic, hot pepper, onion, whole wheat, or garlic coriander), are just as fresh. There's a chunky, garlic-laden hummus definitely made from scratch, and a Moroccan carrot salad with a subtle bite of curry. Even the gratis accompaniments -- crunchy house-made pickles and marinated turnips -- pack flavor. Zaatar, a spice blend that includes sumac, thyme, and roasted sesame seeds, may join the fast-food lexicon once this eatery catches on, but until then, neophytes will need to check out Zaatar's food glossary.

Zaatar's Oven, located at 242 Harvard Street (Coolidge Corner) in Brookline, is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call (617) 731-6836.


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