The resto’s wood-fired grill
New at Westside Provisions District is Aziza, Atlanta’s first upscale Israeli concept. Aziza means “happiness” in Arabic and is also coincidentally restaurateur Tal Postelnik Baum’s mother-in-law’s middle name. At a time when the Westside is truly dominating the restaurant scene, Aziza is adding fuel to the fire‚ oftentimes literally. The entire concept revolves around the wood-burning oven, which every seat in the house can see.
Aziza’s Break of the Strait with gin, herbs, orange bitters and mint
THE DRINKS Helmed by bar manager Demario Wallace, formerly of the acclaimed Watchman’s, the drink menu boasts 12 inventive cocktails and a list of classics such as Tom Collins and martinis. Branch out and try something with an interesting flavor profile, such as the Near East Old-Fashioned: Made with rye, wheated bourbon, Chartreuse, black cardamom and coffee bitter, it’s got a depth to it that a regular Old-Fashioned just can’t find. You’ll find yourself asking the staff to explain what freekeh water or oloroso is, but that’s OK—you’re in expert hands.
THE FOOD Under Baum’s guidance is executive chef Brandon Hughes, formerly of Aria and Bacchanalia. The nontraditional take on the food is thanks to Baum’s personal experiences—her Israeli upbringing was one of eclectic flavors and cuisines. The must-order of the meal is by far the breads. Jerusalem bagel with roasted corn tahina; challa with nigella seed and silan butter; and the delightfully croissant-esque kubaneh, served with grated tomato and schug, although I ate it without any condiments with glee.
Octopus with sunchoke, aleppo and squid ink tahini
The plates are meant to be shared, and you can’t come here without ordering a hummus. There are two from which to choose: One features Turkish coffee-braised short ribs, and the other features roasted maitake and pomegranate seeds. There are all the usual vaguely Middle Eastern items you’d expect to see, such as halloumi, octopus, aleppo, lamb, bulgar and more, used in creative ways. (The watermelon with feta, harissa, salad burnet and nigella seeds was a standout.) Be sure to save room for one of pastry chef Zibaa Sammander’s creations: The carrot cake krembo with labneh mousse, cardamom cream, white chocolate and carrot sherbert was heavenly.
THE RESTAURATEUR Baum’s Oliva Restaurants is best known for its Bellina Alimentari at Ponce City Market. Baum grew up in her native Israel and spent many years in Italy. Now, along with Aziza and Falafel Nation, she’s opening Rina, an Israeli diner concept serving casual Israeli street food at Ford Factory Lofts. She’s joined by General Manager Jeremy Iles.
THE DESIGN Smith Hanes Studio took Baum’s direction of modern Israeli cuisine and ran with it—the coveted spots are either at one of the four massive scalloped banquets or at the inviting bar. The private dining room holds up to 15. The local firm also previously designed Bellina Alimentari.
Watermelon and feta salad
THE BONUS Falafel Nation is a fast-casual counter-service spot attached to Aziza, serving up two types of pitas (green falafel- or eggplant-based), a hummus bowl, a chopped salad bowl, fries with harissa aioli and tahini chocolate chip cookies. It’ll bring a nice quick option to Westside Provisions District, especially for those looking to satisfy a weekend falafel craving.
THE DETAILS 1170 Howell Mill Road NW, 404.968.9437
Photography by: andrew thomas lee/aziza