After a three-year hiatus and some staffing shuffles, local chef Mourad Lahlou is reopening his original flagship in the Outer Richmond (named for his mother), Aziza.
The Michelin-starred modern Moroccan restaurant closed after 15 years in 2016 for renovations just as Lahlou was focused on the opening of his also Michelin-starred downtown hit Mourad — with promises that Aziza would reopen in some new form. But things got in the way.
As Lahlou puts it to the Chronicle this week, "I opened Mourad and it felt like an evolution. Basically, you get this seed, you plant it, you get the fruit and once the fruit is exhausted, you take the seed and start again." But, he says, "I never forgot about Aziza," there were just some other, personal complications with focusing on the project. Let's call it a psychological block.
"When I closed Aziza for a remodel, I had a fallout at home with my mom," Lahlou tells the paper. "We ended up not speaking for about the duration of the construction." But, he says, his fiancee encouraged him to go home and make peace, which he did, and now just as his relationship with his mother has been repaired, so has Aziza, with new plumbing, flooring, and more.
back to square one... @azizasf. words could not express how happy and thrilled i am to be bringing aziza back. after many delays and a long journey, full of soul searching and many bumps along the way, it became abundantly clear to me,and others, that the true soul of the space remains that of aziza. it has shaped my life, my career, and has been the source of everything i am today. the reincarnation of aziza will stay true to its roots and will hopefully be home to many of you. i want to extend my sincerest gratitude to everyone who has been part of this journey, to everyone who has worked tirelessly to make such beautiful and tasty food & drinks throughout the years. i especially want to thank the people who have slaved away to bring this beautiful and special moroccan eatery and gathering place back to life. namely, @mdaley9, @scottchilcutt @vtkeim @loveforbutter @tarapatrick1467 @okorkov. i’m also stoked to be bringing back frank the tank @pfrankhanes as my cdc. thank you to all the people who have supported aziza from day one, and everyone who has believed in it and made it a reality. we can’t wait to welcome you, feed you and make so many new memories together. last but not least, my love and thanks go out to my mom, aziza, who has inspired this crazy idea since day one. when it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. see you all soon...
A plan to replace Aziza with a Mexican-Moroccan concept called Amara was abandoned a couple years ago after Lahlou's partnership with former chef de cuisine Louis Maldonado couldn't wait out the much-delayed construction process. (Maldonado, who did a stint at Healdsburg's Spoonbar, recently took over the kitchen at Gibson at the Hotel Bijou.)
Keeping with the trends of the times, Aziza will shift from its fancier former self to something more rustic and casual, with a focus on a la carte dishes. But fans of Mourad and the former Aziza (especially those who live in the Avenues) will no doubt be thrilled to have the place back, starting October 14.
As Eater notes, the space's interior arches are gone in favor of a fresh look that Lahlou calls "a greenhouse in the middle of Marrakech."