Last February, Khagendra Gurung and Ashish Bhandari stood on Tennyson Street and asked passersby what kind of restaurant they wanted in the Berkeley neighborhood. The residents answered: Mediterranean food. So the two took a deep dive into the regional cuisine, then opened their new restaurant, Mazevo Mediterranean.
Mazevo, at 3961 Tennyson Street, debuted on October 11; it serves a menu of dishes representing the myriad cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The restaurant draws inspiration from Middle Eastern and North African spices, Spanish wines and French desserts, to name a few. The decor reflects Greek architecture, and the concept is meant to bring comfort in a time of unrest.
Gurung already owns Himchuli Indian & Nepalese Cuisine at 3489 West 32nd Avenue and Cuisine of the Himalayas in Evergreen, but the switch to Mediterranean food draws from a completely different palette of flavors and ingredients. It was an exciting challenge, says Bhandari, Mazevo's manager.
Much of Mazevo’s eclectic menu has been crafted by chef Puzan Shrestha, who specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. “We wanted to go through all of the cultures,” Bhandari explains. “We wanted to bring a little bit of everything: good wine, good cocktails and good food. We didn’t want to just focus on one place.”
Appetizers include tahini hummus ($8) made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and Aleppo pepper; baba ghanoush ($8), a mixed dip of roasted and charred eggplant, tahini, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds; and dolmas ($8), rice-stuffed grape leaves here enhanced with the flavors of cherry tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, microgreens and tzatziki.
Entrees include chicken shawarma ($15) that chef Shrestha marinates in yogurt and harissa and pairs with a garlic aioli and hummus; falafel ($12) made with fresh herbs and served with tahini sauce and tabbouleh; and cauliflower roasted with harissa, rosemary and salt ($12).
“We’re still testing out the menu,” says Bhandari, explaining that he is looking at customer feedback before finalizing the options. He and Shrestha hope to have a solid roster of dishes before the end of the year. In the meantime, they’re running specials every other weekend; so far they’ve offered entrees such as lamb meatballs and confit byaldi (a dish similar to ratatouille).
But what makes the restaurant special, according to Bhandari, is the design. “We wanted to create a comfortable space, even with the COVID crisis going on,” he explains. He studied Greek architecture to re-create an airy, Mediterranean feel, with Greek pillars, light walls and a pergola meant to evoke an outdoor courtyard.
“We want customers to know we’ve taken every precaution we can,” Bhandari continues. In Greek, "mazevo" means "to gather," and the restaurant's website notes that the name was inspired by the human need for connection. Despite the tough times, Bhandari and his team hope that Mazevo can be a meeting point for cultures, tastes and neighborhood goodwill.
Mazevo is currently operating at 25 percent capacity indoors and is looking into outdoor seating for the winter. The restaurant is open daily for in-house dining, takeout and delivery; lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner is served from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.. Call 303-955-8256 or visit Mazevo's website for details and reservations.