When I go out for dinner, I tend to head north, either deeper into my neighborhood of brownstone Brooklyn or all the way into Manhattan. But recently, friends took us south, to Bay Ridge, and Tanoreen, one of the most highly regarded Mediterranean restaurants in the city.
The restaurant’s guiding light is chef/owner Rawia Bishara, a home cook who began catering in 1998 and is now working a large, comfortable space that’s always full of happy diners. Portions are large, prices are reasonable and the hearty, well-spiced dishes are irresistible.
The wine list is short but true to the chef’s roots, offering a handful of Lebanese wines (including Chateau Musar) and others from the “wrong” side of the Mediterranean. I chose Syrocco, a Syrah made in Morocco by Alain Graillot, one of the top winemakers in France’s Northern Rhône Valley.
The wine is the result of a joint venture between Graillot and Thalvin, a Moroccan winery that Graillot consults for. Thalvin produces about 4 million bottles annually, mainly for the domestic market in Morocco, by sourcing grapes from their own 800 hectares of vines along with purchased fruit. They approached Graillot for help with a wine aimed at foreign markets and, after checking out the vineyards and talking to some of Thalvin’s growers who were interested in producing a quality wine, Graillot signed on.
The debut vintage was 2005; Tanoreen offered the 2008 for a very reasonable $37. It was light-bodied and silky, with black fruit and licorice flavors over light, firm tannins, and a savory finish. I rated it 88 points, non-blind, and it was a lovely match with a copious and satisfying dish of okra stewed with tomatoes and chunks of lamb, served over rice ($17).
7523 Third Ave. (at 76th St.)
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11209
WineSpectator.com members: Read blind-tasting reviews for previous vintages of Syrocco.