A taste of the Middle East

Family owned spice company opens Manoushe Bakery in Rockville


Photo by Eva Bard, LT

Behind the counter, fresh manoushe is prepared within 10 minutes of ordering.

Eva Bard, Editor-in-Chief

For five years, Z&Z Manoushe Bakery traveled its way around the D.C. area selling manoushe at local grocery stores and farmers markets. After a long journey, Z&Z landed its rich flavors and fluffy manoushe at a permanent storefront in Rockville, adding much-needed diversity to the fast casual scene.  

As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I could tell the food would be delicious. Although I was the only customer at the time, the smell alone brought the restaurant to life. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Z&Z nailed a trendy, yet homey aesthetic. I was quickly absorbed by the green wallpaper covered in cool decorations and the upbeat Arabic music playing in the background. 

The restaurant specializes in manoushe, a Middle Eastern flatbread originally from Lebanon. Beyond these flatbreads, the store sells spices and other packaged goods. The menu is limited, with only eight manaeesh to choose from. However, the website notes that they plan to add to their menu as they “ramp up” operations. They also have limited hours, as they are only open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the dinner shift. 

The restaurant is small and does not offer any indoor seating. After ordering at the counter, I sat at one of the many tables outside. The night I went, the weather permitted for a pleasant outdoor dining experience, but as it gets colder, customers will probably have to take their manoushe home with them to enjoy. 

I tried the Classic Plus, a flatbread topped with za’atar and fresh vegetables, and the Cocktail, a flatbread that combined two other menu items with za’atar on one half and a cheese blend on the other. Even though the flatbreads all had simple ingredients, the flavor was complex and bold. The manoushe melted in my mouth and tasted fluffier than a typical pizza crust. 

Although I loved them all, my favorite dish was the Classic Plus. The za’atar made for a delicious base and the chopped cucumber, tomato and mint brought a much-needed freshness to the nutty taste of the za’atar. My least favorite item was probably the cheese blend, which just tasted like a sauceless pizza slice. It was far from bad, but it had the least original taste out of all of them. 

I was initially skeptical that the meal would be satisfying because flatbread with za’atar seemed like a menu item I could have ordered as an appetizer at a standard Mediterranean restaurant. However, to my surprise, the manoushe stuffed me. 

The menu ranged from $8 to $14, which is relatively reasonable in comparison to the price of an individualized pizza. However, Z&Z wants to make sure customers know that their flatbreads are not pizzas. In fact, their website can be accessed at itsnotpizza.com. 

My dad entered Z&Z as a za’atar-hater and left as a za’atar fan. So unless you’re allergic to sesame seeds or gluten, I would recommend this restaurant to everyone, even picky eaters. I’m looking forward to an expanded menu, but in the meantime, I’ll be just as satisfied with trying all eight flatbreads or even repeating my previous order. 

Z&Z Manoushe Bakery is located at 1111 Nelson St., Rockville.