La Cuisine d'Izza, the Mile End Moroccan restaurant that replaced Namos and Vegera last April, has earned its first review. It comes from Thierry Daraize, the restaurant critic for Le Journal de Montréal, who excitedly declares: "Tous les amoureux de la cuisine marocaine authentique vont être comblés à La cuisine d’Izza!"
Good news for owner Jérémie Assouline (late of Ryu, and XO), whose restaurant renders homage to his grandmother, and whose mother helms the stoves. Daraize enjoys mom's food; the critic plunders the kemia (small dishes) and salad cart, and gobbles briouat, triangular puff pastry stuffed with seasoned beef. Couscous with lamb's shoulder is a bit firm, but completely delectable. Another meaty main, a chicken and olive tajine, merits a "Formidable!" from the critic.
Two desserts score too: sfenj, a type of fritter or beignet, and crêpes with a beurre monté orange blossom syrup. By the time the mint tea hits the table, Daraize is practically quoting Casablanca. The final verdict on La Cuisine d'Izza: three stars on five.