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Moroccan Restaurants, Part I

Keep in mind that I visited these for lunch.  Both have entertainment and a more elaborate menu in the evenings.

Marakesh, Parsippany, NJ

We've started using 287 to 206 to 295 to get through the length of NJ. The traffic is better and any stops are more pleasant.  Marakesh is only a couple of miles off of 287 by taking 46 East and literally just past the intersection of 46 and 80, on the right, in a tiny undistinguished block of about six stores. If you're passing the Midas shop, you've gone too far.

Inside it's small but elaborate. The walls are covered with decorative artifacts and the seating is all on cushioned benches covered with brocade, with lots of brocade pillows. The tables are large brass trays on folding stands. In an upper corner of the rear wall is a screen showing Arabic music videos (presumably that stops during the evening belly-dancing). 

The one waiter (the only person seen) was very friendly and attentive.  For lunch, the meals come with the "appetizer buffet" (hummus covered in olive oil, tabouli, eggplant-tomato salad, marinated black olives, stuffed grape leaves, and hard-boiled egg halves sprinkled with cumin), an individual salad (shredded iceberg lettuce with diced red onions, tomatoes, corn kernels, and an excellent cilantro dressing), and a choice of main dish. 

I chose the "kofta" plate, with hand-made shredded beef sausages served with spears of red and green pepper and zucchini over a mound of yellow (supposedly saffron) rice. The sausages were flavorful and not too dry, the veggies were cooked enough without being over-cooked, but the rice was bland and overly plentiful. Still, in all, a very good meal.

The mint tea came in a small fancy pot which was not left at the table. Instead the server brought it on a tray with a small glass, and proceeded to pour into the glass, still balanced on the tray, while lifting the kettle at least two feet above to get the proper foaminess. He then served the glass and took the kettle away, but checked back regularly to see if I needed the performance repeated.

I asked about getting dessert to go, with enough dessert for the people I was planning to visit.  The dessert menu is small and most seem to involve ice cream or other ingredients that don't travel well, but on consultation with the server we decide the "baklawa and fruit" would do.  Each serving of this turned out to be two pieces each of three different sorts of layered pastry with honey and nuts, but not as dripping as most of the Greek baklava I've had.  Very crisp and sweet enough without being too sweet.  The fruit were slices of melon and orange, very nice choice.

There was no indication of anything alcoholic available for lunch, and apparently not in the evenings either.  Prices were very reasonable.  Parking is in front of the stores.  Next door to Marakesh is a boutique selling Near Eastern and North African items, which is probably run by the same people.

Overall, a surprising good place given its location, and a place I'll happily visit again.