Need a break from campus dining? Got a craving for Arabic food? Zorona, a family-run restaurant that serves authentic Middle-Eastern cuisine, is a great opportunity to get off campus, particularly if you’re in the mood for falafel. Zorona boasts a long menu of pan-Arabic cuisine and regional specialties from Lebanon, Jordan and even Greece.
Moreover, Zorona’s abundance of vegan and vegetarian dishes makes it a good choice for groups with mixed dietary preferences. Its location—only a heartbeat from Vassar College—means that hungry students have easy access to this local eatery known for its good food, Arabic decor, and casual, friendly atmosphere six days a week.
If you are unfamiliar with traditional Middle-Eastern cooking, try the Jordanian salad, prepared from tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, parsley and lemon-sumac, dressed with virgin olive oil. Take note: It’s sharp on the palate, so those with milder tastes may prefer alternatives such as the cucumber salad, a tasty blend of cucumber, mint, yogurt and garlic. Eastern yogurt on a hot day can be very invigorating; if you want something cool, Lebeneh, a creamy, thick yogurt dish, is offered as an appetizer. Add some hummus, pita bread and a falafel and you will likely be happily set with a nutritious, filling meal.
Meat eaters ought to consider the shawarma and shish kebab, including the Zorona Platter: lamb, kifta, and chicken kebab served with salad and choice of rice or fries. Another dish that merits a special note is their Greek salad—it is arguably the best in Poughkeepsie, and one of the best that I’ve had in the country. For dessert, Zorona offers excellent baklava, a pastry of ancient origins made from phyllo, honey and nuts. It is also offered as Warbat, baklava topped with custard.
Take a look around while you eat. Arabic curios are located throughout the restaurant, ranging from photographs of Petra to old-fashioned string instruments, hookah pipes and figurines. The big-screen television, mounted in one corner, provides a steady beat of Middle-Eastern Music Television, ranging from pop to dabke; the music is unobtrusive and adds to the ambience. The food, the atmosphere and the sociable service make Zorona a good, casual place to take a date, a friend, or just to relax by yourself. Price-wise, Zorona is well within a student’s budget. Additionally, the portions are filling and there is enough on the menu to keep you experimenting for a while.
Groups of up to 12 people should have no trouble finding accommodation, though if you know that your party will be large and ravenous after a soccer game, you should call and reserve a table in advance. And while individuals or couples shouldn’t find seating to be a problem, you may want to call ahead just to ensure that any special dinner plans won’t be spoiled. The VCard is accepted, and for those on the go, take-out is an option; delivery, however, is not. Finally, Zorona caters, and has supplied food for the Arlington Fair and Vassar’s Founder’s Day celebrations. But why wait until the next holiday? It’s just down the road, which is great for the many students without a car.