LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake’s Mazza named a finalist for prestigious restaurant award

Mar 31, 2023, 10:15 PM | Updated: Apr 7, 2023, 10:54 am

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s his nightly routine.

The meals, using quality ingredients, are made from scratch every day. Ali Sabbah says it’s the only way to do it.

“Have you ever had a warm baklava?” he said while putting the finishing touches on the dessert.

Sabbah has made a career out of serving Middle Eastern food at his Mazza restaurant in the 15th and 15th neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Often, his small restaurant is packed with customers.

“We have the traditional stuff, the hummus and the baba ghanoush and the falafel and the shawarma,” he said. “But our strength is the varied menu.”

That menu, which comes from his Lebanese roots, is now giving him national attention. This week, Mazza was named a finalist for the James Beard Award.

It’s basically the Emmy’s of restaurants.

“It came out of the blue,” Sabbah said. “It’s pretty much the most prestigious award that every chef and restauranteur aspire to actually be part of.”

It means he’s doing something right.

“It’s always in the mind of every restaurateur, every chef, is where do I stand?”

He doesn’t have to wonder anymore.

Sabbah started Mazza in 2000. It grew to three restaurants in the Salt Lake valley, but the loss of business because of the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to close all of them except for the one on 15th and 15th.


a
“It was luck that I was able to save this one,” he said. “But it was also a blessing in disguise because I rediscovered my love for being in the kitchen. When I had three restaurants, I was more of a bean counter.”

Sabbah said being able to get back to preparing food, working with recipes, and creating the kinds of unique Middle Eastern dishes Mazza is known for, made him happy.

He said he is also proud to be part of a growing restaurant scene where Utah is becoming known for more than just funeral potatoes and fry sauce.

“We fly under the radar, yes. People think that Salt Lake City and Utah doesn’t have good cuisine. We have amazing cuisine.”

The winner of the awards will be announced in June. Sabbah said it would be amazing to win, especially with the quality of the other restaurants in the finals. Either way, he’s just happy to be along them and back to doing what he loves the most.

“As long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, getting up in the morning and looking forward to doing it, that’s very important,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

SWAT officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department stand in a driveway after they and patrol o...

Josh Ellis

Man arrested after allegedly threatening SLC first responders with gun

A 23-year-old man was arrested early Saturday morning after police say he threatened emergency medical workers with a handgun.

33 minutes ago

Spanish Fork police at the scene where the teen was hurt....

Andrew Adams

Police: Spanish Fork teen seriously injured after falling out of an SUV

Spanish Fork police said a 16-year-old boy was seriously injured after falling out of a moving SUV on Friday.

15 hours ago

Aftermath of an avalanche off of the Wasatch Mountains. (Courtesy: Rob Holmes)...

Brianna Chavez

Backcountry skier urges caution after triggering avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A backcountry skier urges other skiers to be cautious after triggering avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

15 hours ago

silver cuffs on a black background...

Alexander Campbell

Cedar City math tutor accused of recording a student in the restroom

A math tutor in Cedar City was arrested after admitting to recording a student in his restroom on Thursday.

16 hours ago

Pair of handcuffs on a black bacthroom...

Alexander Campbell

Salt Lake City man charged with credit union robbery

A grand jury has voted to charge a local man with the robbery of a Cyprus Credit union.

17 hours ago

Joey Skelton, a school bus driver for a Utah school is receiving a thank you poster and an award fo...

Emma Benson

School bus driver hailed as hero for saving student lives after car ignored bus stop arm

A Jordan School District bus driver is being praised after he prevented a possible tragedy from happening to students. 

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Salt Lake’s Mazza named a finalist for prestigious restaurant award