Kaza Maza is a Middle-Eastern tapas bar located inside a former stamp shop on Parc Avenue near Villeneuve. The old sign fronting the bar bears witness to this establishment’s past. Otherwise, the place has been completely gutted to incorporate a simple yet inviting decor preserving the original wooden floors and brick walls. Some of the old wood was used to make the table-tops and other decorative elements. During the renovations, the owners even found plenty of stamps, which they are planning to creatively integrate into the space.
The food is not only reasonably priced but so flavourful that, along with the ambiance, it will transport you to the Middle East. Among the cold tapas, the babaganouj sprinkled with pomegranate seeds stands out for its smoky taste. The labneh (like tzatziki) goes along well with the hot meat dishes – the leg of lamb being the most succulent. The hummus is also pretty decent. Other Levantine appetizers include mouhamara (a red-pepper spread), moussaka (a take on the Greek equivalent), mutabbul (a beet dish) and basturma (labneh with Armenian-spiced dried meat.
The hot mezze features mostly Syrian-Lebanese specialties such as kibbeh (bulgar beef balls, similar to falafel), kefta (minced lamb with nuts and spices), soujouk (Armenian sausages) and cheese burek (like spanokopita). All this can be enjoyed with a beer, glass of wine or even a shot of Arak, a traditional Middle Eastern alcoholic beverage made from liquorice, similar to Ouzo.
Portions are small but sufficient and can be combined: 3 cold mezze for $20 or 5 for $30 is enough to satisfy your palate without over-stuffing you. For dessert, there’s baklava and espresso-based coffees served from a Rancilio. Kaza Maza also serves brunch on weekends from 11am to 3pm.
This is hands-down one of the better Middle Eastern restaurants in town having garnered quite the following with several newspaper reviews and over a thousand Facebook fans. Musical performances and art exhibitions are also held here occasionally by both well-known and up-and-coming artists.