Restaurant Review: Phoenecia

If it weren

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PHOENECIA
Before he passed away last summer, Hussein Khazaal was one of those rare restaurateurs who really did treat his customers like family. His menu was a formality: I’m told he’d regularly sidle up to tables and chat long enough to gauge diners’ likes and dislikes before disappearing into the kitchen to cook whatever struck his fancy. The restaurant, which originally opened in 1973, closed the week Khazaal died. But in January Phoenecia triumphantly reopened, with wife Inaam and children William, Sonya and Nadia running the show. If it weren’t for the tragic year the restaurant has endured, the biggest news would be just how good the food is now. The “new American” menu features a few salads and several small plates, all with Mediterranean accents—sensational, fiery chile- and cilantro-flecked prawns ($9), smoky baba ghanoush headlining a trio of tasty spreads accompanying toasty, heavenly pita ($8), and what may be the best pizza in all of West Seattle. Chewy and airy around the edges, thin and yet formidable enough not to flop under the smart toppings—I especially like the sweet-salty, olive- and chèvre-laden Phoenecian ($14)—these 10-inch pies are terrific. Add to that an entrée from the ever-changing chalkboard list—the lamb loin with quinoa ($29) was simply divine, if pricey—and, like me, you’ll sit in awe as you realize you’ve just had that most elusive of experiences: a really delicious dinner on Alki Beach. Dinner daily. West Seattle, 2716 Alki Ave. SW; 206.935.6550; phoeneciaseattle.com. Wheelchair $$

Originally published in June 2010