TUSTIN, Calif.- Zov’s Bistro has become a landmark dining venue in the heart of Orange County since its opening in 1987. Named for Zov Karamardian, the modern Mediterranean menu at Zov’s integrates Middle Eastern favorites such as baba ghanoush and Moroccan chicken with global influenced spicy Thai chicken salad and crispy barramundi in ginger-soy vinaigrette.
“When the food is this good, a restaurant will always be busy,” commented a server at Zov’s Bistro in Orange, Calif. Unsolicited praise from an employee is only an echo of countless raves from fans who recognize a treasure in a sea of chain restaurants.
The authentic “mom and pop” eatery’s design is upscale, comfortable and contemporary Owners Zov and Gary Karamardian are at work in the restaurant every day. The family business also includes son Armen, general manager, and daughter Taleene, director of catering. “It’s a blessing to work with family. I get to see them everyday, which normally I wouldn’t. We each know what we’re good at and the strengths of everyone else. It all comes together and it’s wonderful!” Zov explained.
Zov, born in Israel to an Armenian family, moved a few times as a child to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon due in part to political upheaval. The family emigrated and settled finally in San Francisco in 1959 when she was a teenage. As the eldest, Zov always helped out in the kitchen and absorbed her native Armenian cuisine as well as that of the other countries. She discovered some American dishes that she liked even though they were new to her. “Meatloaf,” she said. “The flavors and the way it was cooked was so different than what I was used to!”
After marrying, the couple moved to southern California for Gary’s job. After raising her two children, Zov began catering out of her home. In spite of her husband’s doubts she decided to open a restaurant. He eventually joined her in the business, which grew to include a café and bakery as well as on- and off-premise catering.
“I enjoy the creativity–creating recipes and delicious foods,” Zov said. I love dealing with people every day. I don’t care for the grueling schedule and sometimes stressful issues that arise in a restaurant.”
Despite the constant demands. the hands-on entrepreneur finds time to donate hours and resources to local charities.
Zov is member of the local garden club and they are currently planting gardens in two elementary schools. She plans to visit the schools when produce is ready to harvest and do cooking demos with the children.
Her “purple dollar program,” which provide free kids meals at her restaurant for well-behaved students awarded by teachers and principals, already is motivating students to positive behavior and learning.
Having traveled all over the world, the chef/owner incorporates the different spices, cheeses, seafood, grains and ingredients she’s found. “We will be introducing Zov’s Blue Zone menu soon. People who live in these zones live to be over 100 and enjoy healthy lives,” she shared.
Follow Zov in her travels at http://www.zovs.com/blog.
GRILLED LAMB “LOLLIPOPS”
buttermilk “onion rings”
phyllo pastry filled with parsley
ROASTED RACK OF LAMB
New Zealand rack of lamb, Gruyère potato
gratin, roasted garlic pomegranate sauce
Loch Duart pan-seared over braised bok choy,
saffron couscous, with charmoula sauce 27.95
RED CURRY HALIBUT
potato gnocchi, baby jewel box tomatoes, min i sunburst squash,
red curry beurre blanc
roasted with maple sugar, sundried cherry
sauce, savory butternut squash
17440 E. 17th St.
Tustin CA 92780
Linda Mensinga was editor of Culinary Trends for 15 years, now a contributing writer. If you have a great restaurant, recipe or food you’d like to share please send an email. You can reach her at email@example.com or Linda@culinarytrends.net.
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