No matter your pleasure, this kitchen aims to meet it, with dozens of dishes that ferry you to Greece, Lebanon and Turkey without your having to leave Penn Quarter. Mezze are to the Middle East what tapas are to Spain and dim sum is to China: good things in small packages.
My current interests at Zaytinya run all over the map. On the light side are iced oysters tarted up with yogurt, dill and wrinkly-red, sweet-tart barberries. More robust: morsels of lemony lamb tongue wreathed in crisp green beans strewn with pickled red chilies and sweetened with sultanas. But it would be just as easy to make an indoor picnic of the many vegetable attractions, among them a dip of roasted red peppers, feta cheese and thyme — a great companion to the warm, house-baked pita — and giant white beans with juicy tomatoes, verdant kale and a haze of garlic. Hate making decisions? Let chef Michael Costa whip up an “Experience,” five or so courses for $55.
The blue of the expansive dining room brings the sea to mind, while the white, which is everywhere else, suggests drifting clouds or sun-washed rock. Chipped furnishings give away the restaurant’s age (12), but diners might be too busy knocking back ouzo-battered trout or chicken shawarma to notice, or care.