Having to be in two places at once is nothing new for Zov Karamardian. Her restaurant business has expanded into a not-so-mini empire that will be six restaurants when the new Anaheim stadium-adjacent shop opens in October. While it’s under construction, the Tustin flagship is wrapping up a $750,000 remodel. There’s just a lot to do.
Most important for Zov is making sure the worldly, more-than-Mediterranean food she’s famous for continues to hit the mark. But she’s got that covered. She’s hired chef Louie Jocson, recently of Red Table in Huntington Beach, to oversee all as culinary director. The two have been busy, collaborating on revised plating of favorites as well as creating new dishes.
The centerpiece of the extensive Tustin remodel is a large bar, something Karamardian been wanting to add, especially since the previous bar area could seat only a few guests. A special bar menu is in development, and the regular menu (also available at the bar) already teems with new dishes like pistachio-crusted sea bass with quinoa cake and shaved Brussels sprouts, or Duroc pork chop with bourbon reduction, garlic kale, olive oil mashed potatoes and grilled pear chutney (each $27). Another new dish is rigatoni sauced with the flavorful Armenian sausage, soujook, with shrimp, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, hot pepper flakes, and tomato ($23). Planned for the Anaheim location is an array of house-made flatbreads including Armenian lahmajoun, along with familiar specialties and tap beer.
There’s a very sweet note to this new chapter, impressive even in the relatively small world of O.C. restaurants: Jocson worked for Zov years ago as a teenager, prior to going to the California Culinary Academy and stints in respected Orange County kitchens. They’d kept in touch—Jocson would dine at Zov’s with his family—and now, here they are. “You never know which way the world is going to turn,” says Karamardian.