I was thinking it’s been a while since I’ve been to the Galleria and I was getting hungry for lunch so I headed on over to see what was new. It was about noon when I arrived and the mall was fairly busy. I found plenty of parking on the upper levels of the large parking structure though and headed in.
The food court seemed mostly unchanged, with the exception of Hibachi San (a business I haven’t seen since I was a kid in Valco Fashion Center of San Jose) and a Persian spot called Aria. I did some quick googling to see if Aria was a big chain and, to my surprise, it actually seems to be a unique-to-Roseville business. I headed on over and took a look over the menu.
Persian cuisine isn’t exactly hugely represented in this area. We had a Persian restaurant for a couple years near Sierra College and Douglas, but other than that the only one I can think of at the moment of is in Rancho Cordova (Shahrzad). From what I could tell looking at the menu here, they seemed to cover the basics of the main dishes – kabobs (chicken, beef, lamb), gyros and wraps. They also have a section with burgers, including one that had my interest, with a ground beef/lamb mix patty, but I’ll save that for another time.
Today I ordered the Chicken Ghormeh (chicken ghormeh in a delicious sauce)[$8.99]. I had first asked what it comes with and was told rice and salad. I decided to add a side of Falafel (golden fried patties of ground garbanzo beans, herbs and spices)[$4.99] and finished it off with a soda [$1.99]. I was given my soda and a pager and headed off into the crowded dining area to find a table. I had just found one towards the center and sat down when the pager lit up. Seemed kind of fast, and it was. When I went back to Aria the cashier told me she was sorry and forgot that they were out of the chicken ghormeh. She offered me a refund or to choose something else @ $8.99. I skimmed over the other items at that price to try and avoid another transaction and settled on the Beef and Lamb Gyro plate.
By this time a seat had opened right next to Aria so I grabbed it and waited just under 10 minutes for my pager to go off again. I found it interesting that most of the customers, as I waited and watched a few come up and order, were almost all of Middle Eastern decent. Meanwhile, Buckhorn grill next-door was hoppin’ with a line 10 deep at times. I hoped that this was not a sign of the quality of food here and that rather most people just haven’t tried Persian food and aren’t too adventurous. I didn’t get to think to hard on that because soon my food was ready to be picked up.
The presentation was decent, except for the salad which was lackluster, and aside from a stay piece of lettuce that made it’s way onto the tray everything was neatly plated. The falafel looked wonderfully golden brown and each piece had a little dab of tzatziki sauce on it. I didn’t realize that this entree also came with some pita bread and red pepper hummus, so that was a nice surprise.
I had a piece of falafel first, which was slightly bigger than bite-sized. The color was a good indication of how nicely it was fried. The texture was great and it was nice and crunchy on the outside while warm and soft inside. They had just a bit of spice that was immediately toned down by the cool tzatziki sauce. I really dug these, however they would be better to share with someone. A half-sized order would have been plenty with my entree.
The salad was about as impressive as it’s appearance. It was simply bits of romain lettuce with a very, very light dressing on it. The pita with hummus was pretty great. As good as most hummus I’ve had so far and the pita bread was nice and soft.
Moving on to the main dish, there was a very good amount of the shaved beef & lamb gyro meat spread out over a large pile of warm, soft Persian rice with a small amount of bright yellow saffron flavored grains over top. Topping the whole thing was plenty of tzatziki sauce for every bite. The gyro was soft and spiced lightly. I really enjoyed this and ate almost the whole thing until I was close to full. I had to leave room for dessert (stay tuned for that)!
Overall I would say Aria is a nice addition to the food court which offers up something a little different compared to the usual fast American / Asian options. We really do have a pretty good food court compared to a lot of malls. I was a little disappointed to not get to try the chicken ghormeh. Maybe another time.
Website: (they have a site but it’s blank, so here’s a link to their Facebook page instead): https://www.facebook.com/ariakabobcuisine