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What is Mediterranean Fusion, Exactly?

What is Mediterranean Fusion? It’s a mix of dishes from various parts of the Mediterranean, with a twist! It’s a unique, eclectic fusion of dishes that are home-cooked, healthy and full of flavor. Taza dishes are Middle Eastern/Egyptian in origin, Greek from childhood, Italian in seasonings, French from school upbringing, Spanish in travels and most of all, uniquely Taza!

Since the conception of Taza several years ago, our goal has been to offer healthy, flavorful food, made from scratch, with a home-cooked feel, and presented in a gourmet fashion. Finding the right ingredients, the right seasonings, and the full flavor was what we strived for with every dish.

Most of the Taza dishes are created as a rounded meal: protein, vegetables, grain. That’s because chef Sandra grew up eating this way. And the focus is on creating gluten-free dishes without any additives and fillers like wheat and sugar.

How it all began (By Chef Sandra)

As a child, born in Cairo, Egypt, my mom and grandmother were always cooking. I grew up watching them make delicious food, and time-extensive dishes. Everything was made from scratch. I don’t remember ever having to pop open a can of this, or a frozen that. But there was also time to make everything in a very elaborate way.

As I grew up, got my degree in Marketing, got married and worked full time, the reality of making an elaborate meal became unrealistic. So I started to find ways to make dishes that maintained the nutritional value, the flavor, the freshness, but quicker. I looked up recipes, remembered recipes that my family made, and combined things together to make my own unique flavors.

When my husband and I were dating, one night he said: “the secret ingredient is pears” (for those of you who know the reference to Iron Chef). That night I made chicken with a pear puree over rice and a side of asparagus. I don’t know where the idea came from. It wasn’t a recipe I had ever seen or grew up eating. I know it sounds weird, but the flavor was delicious.

Since then, we would always experiment with ingredients, combine things together and come up with a unique dish that is always delightful. Ok, so not all were delightful. Sometimes I admit I would say: ok, let’s not make that one again.

I liked to experiment. One of my biggest creations is the cranberry crusted salmon. It’s now on our A La Carte Catering Menu. You have to try it to really get how unique it is. I make it for my family during the holidays and at home, just because. And the best part: it's gluten-free!

So what is Mediterranean Fusion already??? Ok, ok. I’ll tell you. It’s basically my own creation. When we started at the farmers market, our theme was “healthy food, big flavor”. SIDE NOTE: The short story is: I used to go to live events and festivals, and the only food options were greasy, processed, deep fried food, and no healthy options, so I wanted to create that for people like me, small-population as it may be, who want to eat good, healthy food.

Ok, back on track from my side note...People were not satisfied with the theme. They kept asking: “but what kind of food is this?” I think people like to put food in a category to decide if they want to eat it or not. So I gave them a category: It’s Mediterranean, but with a twist. Taza dishes are a combination of Middle Eastern in origin, Greek from my childhood, Italian in seasonings, French in my school upbringing, Spanish in my travels and mostly, uniquely Taza! What does the Taza menu consist of?

Our signature dishes The protein rice bowls quickly became popular because of the flavors, the sauces and for us, they were created because they are a wholesome meal. They have the protein, the vegetables, the grain, and the sauce brings them all together for a euphoric taste in your mouth.

Then we have the salads. I can’t remember a day when I didn’t eat salad. My dad is a big fan of salads, and growing up, he would make salad out of any vegetables we had in the fridge, and he would make his own dressing. So naturally, all Taza salads are made with fresh vegetables and our own house dressings. You have GOT to try the lemon-mint dressing (just saying)! The Greek salad is by far our most popular one. When you try our Greek salad, made with cucumber, tomato, kalamata olives, feta, and romaine lettuce, tossed with our house lemon-mint vinaigrette, you will be converted. A runner-up that is rapidly gaining popularity in our salads menu is the Pear & Pistachio Chopped Salad. When you try it, you will know why this is becoming a favorite among regulars.

Our paninis have quickly become a favorite among our regular customers and new ones alike. This Italian-inspired dish is a comfort food without the guilt. Nothing screams delicious and filling more than toasted sourdough bread (you have to try our sourdough, I searched a lot of bakeries in town and this local one is my all-time favorite), melted cheese and a variety of toppings. Must-try is our newly added Croque Monsieur panini with ham and Swiss cheese melted on top of the toasted brioche. What’s not to like?

Now for the traditional Egyptian-inspired dishes. I mean, I had to bring a taste of Egypt to Scottsdale! The falafel are to die for! You can have it in a pita wrap or the Ful Wa Falafel main entree. And I’m not just saying that, I have tried many around town and they’re either too dry, too crunchy, too oily, too bland, something was always off. Not our falafel. And every customer who has had them says the same thing. One thing most mention is “it’s so greeeen!” So you’ll just have to try them to experience the difference. It’s very popular whether you’re vegan or not. You'll be converted!

Then we have the one-and-only all-time favorite dish from my childhood (and adulthood, who are we kidding?) Koshari. This dish is composed of layers of rice, lentils, ditalini pasta, spicy garlic tomato sauce and caramelized onion. And the best part is: it’s vegan.

And no meal is ever complete without our Hummus (traditional with garbanzo beans and lots and lots of garlic) and Baba Gannouj (think of it as a version of hummus but with roasted eggplant instead, and still oh so garlicy). Both dips are so garlicy, lemony, bursting with flavor, and come with pita slices to dip them with. I dare you not to lick the plate! My husband does!

Back to Italy for some bruschetta. You have to try our Caprese Bruschetta (a vegetarian hit) made with slices of sourdough (yes the same one I mentioned above), fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh sliced mozzarella, fresh basil, pesto and balsamic reduction drizzle. You will love the flavor of this mouthwatering shareable. It’s perfect with a glass of wine. And you must try the Mezza Board, it’s full of house pickled torshi and lift (Egyptian pickled veggies), feta cheese, hummus, baba gannouj, olives, cucumber, and pita slices. It’s a meal in and of itself. Did I mention it has to be paired with wine? I mean, come on, what European person doesn’t have wine with every meal?

Now let’s focus on the Chef’s creations. The creamy lemon mushroom chicken, is an adaptation of several dishes from France and Italy, maybe? But really, it’s my own creation. Don’t ask me how I came up with it. Just something about chicken with lemon and mushrooms just hits the spot. (That’s another plate-licking opportunity if no one is watching, and yes, my husband does, don’t shame him). I left the best for last: the Cyprus Salmon with garlic and wine reduction is like no other salmon you’ve had. I stopped ordering salmon at restaurants years ago. It’s kind of like my falafel experience. It’s too dry, not seasoned enough and I always ask for lots of lemon to squeeze on it just so I can eat it. Not the Taza salmon. Hands down.

We added new items to the menu recently like the Cairo platter which is a great way to sample some favorites. It comes with beef kofta kabab, Greek salad, hummus, blackened broccoli, seasoned rice & grilled pita. Another must-try is the Beyond Gyro. Forget what you know about gyros! Our house-made, slow-cooked, organic lamb and beef gyro meat is gluten-free! Yes! Let me repeat that: It's gluten-free. I dare you to find another restaurant in the valley that makes theirs from scratch with pure meats and herbs and bakes it for hours, and most of all, doesn't add any fillers and additives you can't even pronounce. This dish is served with hummus, pickled onions, warm pita, Greek salad, fries, and tzatziki (which we also make in-house).

Of course we have other items on the menu, as well as specials that rotate from week to week. We have specials like a mouth-watering ribeye steak, pastas, lamb, moussaka, and more.

Also, we are not your typical Mediterranean fast-food spot, come in and stay a while, enjoy the homey living-room atmosphere, relaxed music, and gourmet food. Oh, oh, and a full bar. Did we mention the full bar? Wine, beer, liquor, specialty cocktails, mocktails, you name it.

So I hope this explains a bit what “Mediterranean Fusion” means. It’s a lot of twists on dishes from various parts of the Mediterranean. We are eclectic, we don’t fit in a box, we are unique, just like the experience you will have when you come into Taza Bistro.

So what are you waiting for? Reserve your table. We already sent you an invitation! WELCOME!

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