At nearly three years in the planning, it seemed like Aziza's Mourad Lahlou might never get his downtown follow-up off the ground, but it looks like he's finally nearing the finish line. Inside Scoop reports that the Michelin-starred chef could open his new, still-unnamed spot right next to Trou Normand as soon as next month, continuing to serve the Californian takes on his native Moroccan fare that have made him famous. The new restaurant will be a more upscale affair than Aziza, with a purposely pared-down dining room (62 seats, though the space can hold much more) and a tasting menu option, as well as a la carte.
Beard-nominated rising star Chris Kajioka (Aziza, Per Se) is going to be the chef de cuisine at the new spot, which Lahlou says will serve food that is consciously different from Aziza's, with Moroccan ingredients but California-oriented flavor profiles. Perennial Beard bridesmaid Melissa Chou, considered one of the city's best pastry chefs, will again handle desserts, while master sommelier Alan Murray (Masa's) is on wine. Charles Phan's go-to guy, Olle Lundberg, designed the ultra-modern space, which features a giant 10-foot tree root encased in steel, as well as subtle Moroccan touches like lights evoking Marrakech's night markets. There's also a huge private dining component, with three rooms more than doubling the restaurant's capacity (100 seats between them).
Meanwhile, work is also being done on the mothership: Lahlou has brought on Orlando Pagan (Ame, Spruce) as his chef de cuisine at Aziza, and is planning an interior refresh of Aziza in 2015, once the new spot is up and running.