When I arrived the place was already buzzing, and the triangular terrace that Zevaco and Messina originally designed to have a swimming pool was ripe with cigarette smoke and Arabic-accented French. A host of fleet waiters nipped from here to there like the bees in the tall foliage that protected the building—now called Villa Zevaco—from the traffic outside.
Thanks to the preservationist group CasaMemoire's Casablanca Guide to 20th Century Architecture, I learned that the renovation of the residence into Chez Paul involved joining two spaces under the balcony into one functioning whole. Today on the lefthand side a takeout and pastry case tends to customers on the run—I got a pair of mean sandwiches for the plane there—and to the right the dining room entertains guests who stop in for a coffee or a tea.
All told, it was one of the best meals that I had in Casablanca, even if I did have to run for the airport afterward. After all my running around the big city streets, a more intimate pause with a grand old villa was a perfect cap to my time. And as so much of the city is strongly Art Deco, a little bit of mid-century modernism stood me in good stead for the eight-hour flight from Casablanca to New York.
Finally, I found this truly odd video on YouTube that shows loads of pictures of Villa Zevaco's facade. I'm pretty sure the music is "I Could Have Danced All Night," but the photos sure are nice.
Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.
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