Outside of Brent’s Deli or the occasional sushi bar, the San Fernando Valley food scene west of the 405 doesn't get a lot of attention. However, people should pay attention to Sarig’s Bakery, which opened last summer in the back of a Northridge strip mall near Tampa Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard.
Owner Sako Dekirmanjian is originally from Aleppo, Syria, where his grandfather ran a bakery. Dekirmanjian revived the family tradition, naming Sarig’s Bakery for his daughter. The dining room is fairly basic, with pale pink walls lined with photos of food, marble and pink counters, and five tables. The food, however, is anything but simple.
Saj is a supple, thin-crusted flatbread baked on a convex metal grill. At Sarig’s, it's topped with a wide range of ingredients, folded over like a quesadilla, sliced and served with fresh cucumber, tomato and marinated olives — and priced in the $3 to $4 range. You’d do well to order the saj that teams labneh with za'atar. The creaminess of the thick, strained yogurt tempers the tangy Middle Eastern spice mixture.
If you’re looking for a heartier saj, cheese with sujuk combines sharp white cheese with crumbled house-made Armenian sausage. Sarig’s also sells the Syrian open-faced meat pies laham b’ajin, including one with ground beef, pomegranate molasses, spices and pine nuts for $1.25.
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Sarig's salads and pizzas are clearly geared toward Middle Eastern food novices, but there's plenty of authentic fare such as falafel, ajarski (boat-shaped dough that's filled with cracked eggs and baked) and manti (open-faced beef dumplings from Armenia).
There's also a selection of Middle Eastern pastries and sweets, including fruit- and nut-stuffed cookies called maamoul, baklava, knefe and ponchik (homemade fried dough with Nutella or custard filling).
With so much variety in a small bakery, it’s increasingly clear that this forgotten pocket of the San Fernando Valley warrants a closer look.