Tizi Melloul Turns 10

The rockin' Moroccan resto in River North celebrates a milestone birthday

In the restaurant world, staying open 10 years is a major accomplishment. So, to commemorate Tizi Melloul's decade in business, the Mediterranean eatery is celebrating in a big way, offering diners a new menu, weekly specials and the opening of its outdoor patio, which sits along Wells Street in the heart of River North.

Since debuting in the summer of 1999, Tizi Melloul has racked up awards and accolades for its modern Mediterranean and North African cuisine and its eye-poppingly gorgeous interior straight out of "Arabian Nights." Tizi Melloul's distinctions include being voted "Most Exotic Restaurant" by the Chicago Tribune and one of the "10 Best Looking Restaurants in America" by the Insider's List.

The dining experience at Tizi Melloul, which was named after a mountain in central Morocco, is a culinary journey through the Mediterranean and North Africa. Standout dishes include the "Tizi Mezze," a spread of Turkish-style feta crisps with apricot-chili glaze, hummus, herbed cracker bread, pine nuts and Greek marinated olives ($9); and the classic "Bisteeya," a traditional Moroccan pie filled with roasted organic chicken breast, chicken stew, currants, almonds and seasonal mushrooms ($18.50).

The restaurant has introduced new menu items in honor of its anniversary, including "Tagines for Two," with a choice of stewed zhatar-spiced vegetables over sun-dried, herbed chickpeas; pan-roasted chicken tenders over saffron couscous and fresh herbs; or lightly battered and fried seafood-and-potato croquets served on Turkish rice pilaf. In addition, the prix-fixe "Crescent Menu" will be unveiled on Monday, June 22, offering diners a five-course feast for $35 per person. The convivial family-style meal (guests are encouraged to eat with their hands after an indulgent rose water hand washing ritual) features such highlights as fire-roasted Prince Edward Island mussels, garlic-roasted shrimp kabobs, lamb tagine and, for dessert, semi-sweet chocolate fondue accompanied by fruit, pound cake and marshmallows.

Summer weekly specials will be served Monday through Thursday in Tizi Melloul's sultry Oasis Bar and Lounge. The $3-$6 tapas menu features such seasonal dishes as herbed goat cheese-stuffed peppers and bacon-wrapped dates. Other dining and drinking deals include $3 martinis on Mondays and half-priced bottles of wine with the purchase of two entrees every Wednesday. Out on the outdoor patio, summer sippers such as the "Safi Sangria," "Ali Baba Lemonade" and cucumber martinis help you cool off while the scene stays hot.

And, finally, you can party like a sultan every Sunday, when Tizi Melloul opens its private lair, the Crescent Room, for "Belly Dance the Night Away." For $25, you'll be treated like royalty, complete with bottomless glasses of wine, three chef's choice appetizers and belly dancing performances at 7PM and 8PM. Feel free to show your appreciation by joining in on the hip-shaking high jinks.

Tizi Melloul, 531 N. Wells St., 312-670-4338

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