When Wais Omar and his family took over the former Colosso di Rodi Greek Bistro in October, he didn’t want to disappoint customers who had patronized Patchogue’s only Greek restaurant. But, after a career owning coffee carts in Manhattan, fried chicken shops in Queens and La Casa pizzeria in Bay Shore, he also wanted to fulfill his dream of cooking the food of his native Afghanistan. So he combined the two cuisines under the name Mazza Mediterranean. Mazza, he said, means “taste” in Dari and Pashto (Afghanistan’s two major languages) but also brings to mind the Greek tradition of small plates called mezze.
A noble goal. But it’s important to note that while there is some overlap (mainly in the kebab department), these are two distinct cuisines. Kabul is 3,500 miles east of Athens and landlocked Afghanistan has none of the seafood traditions associated with the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
Still … there are those kebabs and Omar says his are second to none. Mazza skewers lamb, chicken, salmon and the minced, spiced beef that the menu calls “kofte” but is closer to “shami,” the Afghan version. Alongside the Greek casseroles pastitsio and moussaka you’ll find lamb chops and one of the glories of the Afghan kitchen, kabuli palau, a braised lamb shank served with a pilaf of brown basmati rice festooned with carrots, raisins, almonds and pistachio. Most mains range from $20 to $30.
Mazza’s starters ($6 to $17) are headlined by two great Afghan steamed dumpling dishes: aushak, filled with leeks and scallions and topped with ground beef and yogurt; and mantu, filled with ground beef and garnished with tomato sauce and yogurt. You’ll also find bolani (stuffed flatbread) and borani banjan (baked eggplant). From points west: grilled octopus, friend calamari, stuffed grape leaves and Greek meatballs.
Soups, salads and sandwiches ($8 to $18) skew Hellenic: Avgolemono, Greek and village salads, lamb gyro, chicken souvlaki and falafel.
At Mazza, Wais and his wife, Zarlasht, are joined by daughter Sahba and son Samir. Other than change the sign, the Omars haven’t done much to change the décor, which still leans heavily on Corinthian columns, black-figure amphorae and photos of Greek ruins. But panels depicting the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan are ready to be hung, and a painting of the Afghan national sport, Buzkashi, is on order.
While Nassau is home to a number of Afghan restaurants, in Suffolk, Mazza's closest compatriot is Kabul in Huntington. But Wais Omar is confident that once customers try Afghan food, they will love it. "I am making the homemade foods that my mom taught me."
Mazza Mediterranean, 58D S. Ocean Ave., Patchogue, 631-518-2822, mazzamediterranean.getsauce.com. Open Tuesday-Saturday noon to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 9 p.m., closed Monday.