Zaitoon’s Kitchen wants you to eat healthy. It wants you to be able to afford it, too.
Co-owner Zebediah Neyazy has made a home for his authentic cuisine in the Capital District. Neyazy and his staff serve fresh, affordable food that is certified halal, cage-free and veggie fed. The two locations, Guilderland and Latham, aim to introduce people to Mediterranean, Afghani flavors with tried and true recipes.
“The product we use is top quality, which is what I believe sets us apart,” Neyazy said. “Many restaurants serve meat that is of lower quality to make a higher profit. We want to focus on quality in the long term and believe the fresh, unique flavors will entice people to keep coming back.”
Everything Zaitoon’s prepares is made using thoughtful ingredients and from scratch. “We don’t like to cut corners because it affects the finished product,” Neyazy said. “ All of the marinades are house made and our naan is hand stretched every day.”
Neyazy, an Afghanistan native, perfected his family recipes and wanted to make his family’s passion for food available to others. Recipes with rich seasonings and flavors, that bring people together. “We make it about the food so that our guests can focus on everything else,” he said. “Our food may take a bit longer because everything is cooked to order.”
“We love having people come in and experience the food with us for the first time,” Neyazy said, adding the chicken kabobs, or lamb kabobs for the adventurous, are a safe bet for anyone who has not tried the food before. “It’s amazing to see little kids as young as six come in and love the kabobs and rice.”
Neyazy added his menu is full of Afghani delicacies. The carrot and raisin basmati rice, known by its native name Kabouli, is a delicacy in Afghanistan. The mantu, a steamed dumpling made with beef, onions and seasoning, is considered a “VIP” dish at home. The dumplings are served with a delicious yogurt sauce.
“Rice is something only the richer have at home,” Neyazy explained. “Especially the Kabouli, which is caramelized in sugar, is something not everyone has. Mantu is rare, only served with guests or at fancy events.”
The Afghani delicacies are complimented with more mainstream sides, such as salads and naan. Seasoned fries and falafel garnish the sides menu, guaranteed to coax in even the pickiest eaters. Hummus is plentiful and the perfect dip with everything you can eat. Naan wraps also appear, enticing those with a soft spot for the doughy, flavorful bread.
Neyazy said his food makes him miss home and reminds him of the time he and his father spent in New York City’s vast restaurant empire. His father, a member of the restaurant business since he moved to the States, inspired Neyazy’s cuisine and continues to influence the flavors and selection Zaitoon’s Kitchen includes on the menu.
“We make food that can tantalize everyone’s taste buds,” Neyazy concluded. “You will definitely find something you like when you walk in here.”