Best New Restaurant: Aziza
For the past few years, naming the best new restaurant in San Francisco has been difficult. High-end projects popped up faster than we could review them -- Fifth Floor! Gary Danko! Elisabeth Daniel! Azie! Now, in these leaner times, the newcomers have become a lot less ambitious. Even the names (Grub, Bloo, Night Monkey?) aren't as catchy. Still, don't let that detract from our praise of Aziza. After closing their highly rated Kasbah in San Rafael, brother act Mourad and Khalid Lahlou opened an opulent temple to Moroccan cuisine. The décor is sumptuous, the service divine, and the $35 tasting menu makes for one of the most decadent feasts in town. You start with small bowls of tomato-lentil soup and a medjool date, then move on to an assortment of spreads -- eggplant mousse, smoky hummus, cumin-scented carrots. Next comes a traditional Moroccan bastilla (saffron-braised chicken and chopped almonds baked in phyllo), followed by your choice of entree -- paprika-braised rabbit, lamb in coriander sauce, or perhaps Moroccan brochettes over Aziza's signature couscous. Desserts (included, try the kasseri yogurt sorbet) are great, and the wine list ain't too shabby, either. Though we expect the Lahlou brothers to be around for quite a while, we'd like to take this opportunity to welcome them to San Francisco.