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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The dish on University Eats

    The dish on University Eats

    Ethnic food doesn’t just mean french fries anymore. In the last few years, University Boulevard, the historic street that tirelessly reinvents itself, has blossomed into a haven for a variety of international tastes.

    This new crowd of restaurants, such as Joel’s Bistro, Panizza, Kababeque and Auld Dubliner, provides students with non-traditional dining options.

    Two years ago, The Fat Greek restaurant moved downstairs and renovated Samurai Sam’s former space to accommodate more customers with a larger dining room and outdoor patio. Dewy-eyed students hardly got their fill of warm pita bread before being tempted with other tantalizing continental flavors of Italy, India and Ireland.

    Saurabh Sareen, manager of Kababeque, said he chose to open his store near campus because he believes students are more “”adventurous”” than the general public in their willingness to try new foods.

    “”Students are very outgoing,”” he said. “”I recommend a special to them, and they get that.””

    Though he believes students took well to the different cuisine, he said there were plenty of changes made in the first couple years. For example, they now remove all starch from their rice, cook all meat without oil and add lettuce to all the rolls to please the growing number of health-conscious students.

    Healthy upgrades don’t affect perplexing spice combinations in reigning sauce dishes like the tikka masala. For those who fear watering eyes or gurgling stomachs, be sure to request mild hotness.

    Severe changes to the menu for the health-conscious students are unnecessary, said Fat Greek’s manager Yanni Markou. “”Students will order a green salad alongside a plate of fries.””

    Last winter, The Fat Greek extended its hours to accomodate students during breakfast. Markou hopes customers recognize the affordability, where a breakfast gyro, complete with eggs, potatoes and meat, only costs $3.25 before tax.

    For lunch, try The Fat Greek’s Athenian green beans and pita bread. Cooked in a light tomato soup with carrots and onions and topped with a generous sprinkling of feta cheese, these beans redefine perfection.

    Aside from having 14 different panini, Panizza prides itself on its widespread assortment of desserts. Manager Justin Turconi believes his Italian citizenship gives him an edge on the cuisine. Compared to other cannoli he’s tried in Tucson, Turconi thinks Panizza’s are very authentic. “”We have some of the best desserts on the strip,”” he said. “”They’re very real, very rich, very dense.””

    Some desserts are ordered in, while others, like the “”signature rum cake,”” are homemade. This cake is literally drenched in the sweet alcohol, so if you’re not ready for a minor setback to your diet or your love life, stick with the reliable, made-to-order panini.

    Moving westward, University Boulevard serves a more diverse clientele. While Panizza claims that about 90 percent of customers are students, Joel Suire, owner of Joel’s Bistro, said that students come mostly for breakfast. Primarily faculty and residents come for lunch and dinner.

    Since the Cactus Grill and Redington Restaurant are no longer open during the weekend, Joel’s Bistro will surely scratch that breakfast itch that comes after a long night of partying. Try a seductively sweet and tangy strawberry crepe while basking in the sunlight of the patio along Geronimo Square.

    The west end of University Boulevard notoriously cycles through new businesses. Jane McCollum, general manager of the Marshall Foundation which chooses restaurants for University, speculated that the curse may be a result of being an off-campus residential area. Less conventional restaurants may not fare well with nonstudent patrons.

    Auld Dubliner’s food is more conventional than the other ethnic restaurants that have opened. It also attracts nonstudent patrons with a full bar and larger dining atmosphere.

    Potato pancakes, known as boxtys in Ireland, consume a quarter of the dinner menu. A boxty with corned beef will wow patrons with its well-timed release of flavors; a welcoming with salty meat, then a farewell with rich cheese and all the while a lingering of tangy apple-onion relish and sweet potato pancake.

    The Nutty Irishman’s quaint mix of Bailey’s, Frangelico and cream also relies on well-timed flavors. Unsuspecting taste buds are forewarned to wait until after swallowing before delivering a verdict, because a lingering cream tames that initial burst of hazelnut.

    Bakerzin, a European boutique based in Singapore that specializes in dessert tapas, is currently remodeling the space formerly rented by Chicken Daddy’s and is likely to open by winter, McCollum said. It will be more upscale than most restaurants on University and McCollum believes this fosters healthy competition.

    “”We don’t like duplicating exact concepts,”” she said. “”We try to give the community a variety.””

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