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>> THIS FAMILY-RUN RESTAURANT HEATS UP THE DINING SCENE WITH A MOUTHWATERING MENU
Morsi's Mediterranean Grill, reviewed

 A gyro is just one of the many Mediterranean-inspired items available at Morsi's, located in the Southpoint Shoppes.
Marie Sicola/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 10/4/2012

BY LINDA SALISBURY

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Morsi's Mediterranean Grill is a culinary delight. The cheerful and unpretentious storefront restaurant, which opened this summer, offers homemade cuisine that is outstanding from appetizers to desserts.

For the budget-conscious, the portions are good-sized and value-priced, meaning you could make a meal out of soup and appetizers, but that's not what we recommend. You'd be missing out on delicious treats emanating from the expertise of owner Malmoud Morsi and his wife, Donna. Morsi was a chef and restaurant manager for many years, working for luxury hotels in the Mediterranean region before opening his own place.

My Dining Partner and I began by sampling the roasted red pepper hummus ($6.49) and the Greek goat cheese ($5.99). The hummus, served with warm, homemade pita chips, was delicately flavored with spices, olive oil, garlic, chickpeas and roasted red pepper, which gave it a rosy hue. Equally good were the four ice-cream-scoop-size rounds of creamy, warm, seasoned cheese topped with sprigs of rosemary and bits of red pepper for color and flavor.

We were very impressed with the red lentil soup ($2.99), which was served in a large mug (we asked for two spoons). The thick, savory soup was flavored with a hint of curry, and textured with garlic, onion and spices.

The entrees include chicken, beef, veal, seafood, vegetable or lamb kabobs fixed in a variety of styles, several "signature entrees" and pizza cones.

At the recommendation of our server, I ordered the chicken tikka kabob ($9.99). The four large pieces of chicken breast (removed from the skewer) were moist, tender and coated in ginger yogurt and slightly spicy seasonings. The chicken rested on a large bed of fat couscous, and was served with chilled and delicious fattoush salad (chopped onion, parsley, peppers and tomatoes in a lemon mint dressing), grilled slices of squash, and two stuffed grape leaves, plus a yogurt and mint sauce served with homemade naan. The presentation was colorful and the flavors were individual and delectable.

MDP was very pleased with his lamb shank with rosemary mint sauce ($12.99) over couscous and served with grilled vegetables. The meaty shank was tender and perfectly cooked.

Morsi's also makes its own desserts. The chocolate hazelnut baklava ($4.99) was worth whatever calories it may harbor. It was sweet but not cloying. Kenafa ($3.99) was new to us, and a delightful surprise. Spelled and prepared in various ways, the dish involves a cheesy "custard" topped with orange-colored, finely shredded phyllo dough and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. Need we say more?

Morsi's is hard to top for quality and value, and we're already thinking about returning to try other dishes.

Linda Salisbury is the author of the Bailey Fish books, an award-winning adventure series for kids.


What: Morsi's Mediterranean Grill Address: 10219 Southpoint Parkway, Southpoint Shoppes, Fredericksburg, near Lowe's and Walmart in Massaponax Info: 540/898-0725; morsisgrill.com Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Prices:

Appetizers: $4.99-$7.25

Soups and salads: $2.99-$9.50

Hamburgers and wraps: $5.99-$7.99

Pizza cones: $6.99-$7.99

Dinners: $8.99-$12.99

Children's menu: $4.99

Desserts: $3.99-$4.99

The Scoop: Family-owned and family-friendly. Outstanding food, good service. Lots of standard discount coupons, such as for military members, seniors, teachers, firefighters, police and even kids. Payment: Major credit cards accepted.