"I was living here for eighteen years, waiting for someone to open a place like this," says Moshe Harizy (pictured, right), a fifth-generation Yemenite Israeli and Upper West Sider. Two months ago, evidently sick of waiting, he converted his stationery store into Alibaba, a twelve-seat glatt kosher restaurant and takeout shop specializing in Yemenite-Israeli cuisine--with a macrobiotic twist. "Six years ago, my father was ill," says Harizy, who helped conquer his dad's heart problem by amending his diet and along the way changed his own. That accounts for the presence of brown rice and black beans on Alibaba's menu, a compendium of Middle Eastern fare like koufta kebabs, baba ghanoush, bourekas, and melawah (lightly fried dough with crushed tomatoes and a hard-boiled egg). He imports spices, fava beans, and fruit nectars from Israel and bakes his own lafah, the Yemenite flatbread that makes his turkey shawarma something special. "For $6.95, the price of a tuna sandwich," he says, "you get something healthy and unique--and a free salad bar. You can't beat that."
(515 Amsterdam Avenue, near 85th Street; 212-787-6008.)