For a Fresh, Authentic Meal, Try Maaza 29
Tucked away in a shopping center off of Rte. 29 in Gainesville is a hidden gem by the name of Maaza 29. From the outside looking in, it’s hard to imagine the atmosphere that you’ll find upon entering this establishment.
“We seek to celebrate our cuisine in an upscale, sensual ambiance,” says owner Emanuel Reta. “Maaza 29 is where to come if you’re looking to enjoy handcrafted cocktails and classics with a twist.”
What makes Maaza 29 unique, you ask? The list is never-ending. Reta, who is of Ethiopian and Italian descent, studied at culinary school in France. Bringing French techniques and Ethiopian spices to put a twist on traditional Italian dishes culminates in what can only be described as truly authentic cuisine. You can expect that consistently whenever you stop in, whether it be for a Chili Mango cocktail, Confit-style “fall off the bone” chicken wings, or Lamb Lollipops (a fan favorite).
Part of that consistency comes from a staff of regulars. Don’t expect to see new faces there every time you visit. Most of the staff at Maaza 29 have been working here for years.
What else won’t you see? A microwave and a freezer, for starters. At Maaza 29 everything is prepared fresh.
“We take our dedication to fresh even as far as our cocktails,” Reta says. “All of the sweetness you taste in our handmade cocktails is due to natural sugars from the fruits and other ingredients that are added.”
You won’t see the same menu time and time again when visiting Maaza 29, either. The restaurant updates its selections seasonally in order to introduce customers to new flavors sourced from ingredients that are true to each season. “In the fall, people are looking for a heartier meal,” Reta says. “We want our menu to reflect the seasons so that we’re also able to source local, fresh ingredients whenever possible.”
In addition to cocktails and authentic cuisine, Maaza 29 also offers an extensive and always evolving wine list.
“I travel to Napa Valley twice a year to handpick wines that will pair best with our menu items,” Reta says. In fact, if you’re a fan of Scout’s Honor from Venge Vineyards, you’ll find it only at Maaza 29. And if you’re a wine lover in general, check out Maaza 29’s wine club and its variety of impressive perks.
Maaza 29 hosts frequent events, such as wine and scotch tastings, and often has live music on Friday nights in addition to a unique “Beat the Clock”happy hour Monday through Thursday from 4:30 - 7:30pm. And when the staff at Maaza 29 isn’t serving up fresh, authentic cuisine, you can find them out and about in the community, participating in different events. In May, they tackled the Tough Mudder obstacle course together.
“Maaza 29 is where I want people to be able to come and have a good time,” Reta said. “Our atmosphere is fancy, not formal. Come hang out and have some cocktails, come for a date night, or even bring your kids!”
As you can imagine, there’s no frozen chicken tenders for the kiddos on the menu. “I wouldn’t serve it to your kids if I wouldn’t feed it to my kids,” Reta said. “You can expect the same freshness on the kid's menu that you’ll see throughout the rest of the menu.”
If you’re sensing a trend here, it’s not by accident. Fresh and authentic are the words Maaza 29 lives by. Stop in and taste it for yourself.
Maaza 29, 14630 Lee Hwy., Gainesville / 703-753-2177 / Maaza29.com