To the scores of cookie-cutter halal chain locations sprouting up all over Long Island, add Zora’s Halal Grill of Rockville Centre, independently owned by Zorah Hamid and run with the help of her husband and extended family.
Sharp-eyed readers: The restaurant’s name indeed lacks the “h” of its proprietor. Despite her family’s urging, Hamid felt uncomfortable naming the establishment after herself. “I left the ‘h’ out so people don’t know its me,” she explained (all the while acknowledging the futility of the gesture).
The sit-down-takeout spot, clean as a whistle, opened Sept. 14. The menu doesn’t break new ground — chicken, lamb and falafel over rice, in gyros or over salad; burgers, wings and a Philly cheesesteak; nothing more than $6.99 — but Hamid noted that, unlike her chain counterparts supplied by commissaries, she and her family make all the food from scratch.
Family is key to this operation. Hamid is a professor of nutrition at Plaza College in Forest Hills, Queens, and is studying for her PhD. “I’m all over the place; I need their support.” Her husband, Jawad Ghafoori, used to operate a number of halal food carts in Manhattan and Queens, but decided that it was too difficult to keep an eye on the quality; he urged his wife to open up a bricks-and-mortar location, and he helps out in the evenings. He also shared his recipe for white sauce with her. Hamid says it is drawing raves.
Zora’s Halal Grill is at 91 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre, 516-992-0088.