By Belle Crawford | Photos by Adrian Etheridge
In the Mediterranean, culinary tradition includes frequent trips to local farmers’ markets for seasonal products and long hours in the kitchen perfecting recipes that will be shared with close friends and family.
Rezaz Pan-Mediterranean Restaurant draws on European customs to offer healthy, innovative menu items that are always in season. It specializes in high-end pan-Mediterranean cuisine, featuring dishes from Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece and France. Popular menu items include the grilled Atlantic salmon bento box with aioli, cabbage slaw and house Za’atar as well as the Sicilian veal-ricotta meatballs with risotto, spinach, currants, pine nuts, olives and Parmesan cheese for lunch.
Popular dinner items include the Spanish paella or the rose crusted rack of lamb served with potato tahini, harissa carrots, ground lamb kofta and tomato demi. The dinner menu is changed every four months to keep items seasonal.
Owners Laura and Brian Smith bought Rezaz from former owner and founder Reza Setayesh in 2015 and, except for slight renovations to the dining room, little has changed with the restaurant’s menu and atmosphere. “We painted, added new upholstery and sanded the tables and floors,” says Laura, “but the feeling of Rezaz is still the same. We didn’t want to change too much because we wanted to maintain the restaurant that everyone loved. It’s the restaurant we fell in love with and we wanted to keep it that way.”
Laura has a degree in patisserie and cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu and a degree in hospitality and management from Syracuse University. Brian, a long-time Ashevillian, has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, having worked through the ranks of several restaurants in the city. Laura moved to Asheville in 2010 and became Rezaz’s pastry chef in 2011. “Brian and I met on the kitchen line at the Rezaz. We fell in love, and three short years later, Brian proposed,” says Smith. “Six months after we got married, we bought Rezaz from the former owner.”
Rezaz features a full bar with wine and local beers on draft as well as a seasonal cocktail menu. “This summer we changed a lot of the wines in our menu. Wine lists evolve and we are trying to find a balance of Old World and New World representation that goes well with our flavors.”
The restaurant offers The Benedetto Room for private parties and groups of up to 24. The Chef’s Table, available for up to 12 guests nightly, invites diners to enjoy a five-course tasting menu, personally crafted to individual tastes. “Guests can sip wine and dine beside the kitchen, observing the preparation of food,” says Smith. At the Chef’s Table, they can sit under the “Pandelier,” a sculpture created from original sauté pans used in the restaurant’s first decade.
Rezaz is located at 28 Hendersonville Road in Asheville. Restaurant hours are Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to close, and Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m. to close. For a complete list of menu items, visit rezaz.com. For reservations, call 828.277.1510.