Al Zaytouna is the newest BYOB to open in Bella Vista at 906 Christian Street, just next door to the extremely famous and popular Sabrina’s Cafe. The former Mew Gallery space has been transformed from a crafty art boutique to a dark wood paneled restaurant decorated with travel agency-esque posters of Tunisia, serving freshly prepared Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare.
Owner Koubeil Ayed says al zaytouna means “the olive” in Arabic, but notes he actually named after one of the oldest universities in the world from his hometown of Tunis. With over ten years of experience manning restaurants and nightclubs in the area, Ayed and chef Noomen Abed (formerly of Alyan’s on 4th & South) opened this joint venture less than two months ago.
While both business partners hail from Tunisia, the reasonably priced menu focuses on the more familiar Middle Eastern/Lebanese staples like falafel, hummus, baba ghannouj, kebobs, shawarma (the rotating spit is in the window!), and a whole fish of the day (branzino the day we visited). Ayed notes they are working on adding more of a Tunisian twist to the menu and plan to soon add couscous dishes, prepared in the Tunisian style.
Al Zaytouna is open 7 days a week, offers outdoor seating and takeout, and will deliver your falafel and hummus anywhere from Race to Oregon, river to river. With Mexican, American, Vietnamese, and of course Italian cuisines very well represented in the area, this new addition adds another ingredient to the melting pot of the Italian Market neighborhood. We suggest visiting them next time you’re in the area and have an insatiable hunger for kebabs- or the wait at Sabrina’s is just too darn long.