Super Middle Eastern pita pockets.
who's confined his pita-sandwich consumption to MacDougal Street and
street carts is likely suffering from a common misperception: If you've
had one shawarma, you've had 'em all. Disabuse yourself of that notion
by ordering the succulent Yemenite-Israeli poultry version at Olympic
Pita, a bustling kosher restaurant in Midwood, Brooklyn.The flavorful
amalgam of chicken and turkey is sliced off the spit and rolled up
in a pita or -- better yet -- a sesame-seeded lafah, the blistered
and blackened brick-oven bread resilient enough to contain the juicy,
flavorful meat and the awesome sauces (a dangerously spicy, cilantro-based
zhoug and a sweet-and-sour mango condiment called amba). The sandwich
price ($6.99 for pita, $7.99 for lafah) includes a salad bar, with
all manner of crunchy shawarma add-ons like sour pickles, radishes,
pickled turnips, and delectably oily deep-fried eggplant.
| Gold medalist: Olympic
Pita's super shawarma.
Happily, shawarma is nondenominational, which
makes for an easy transition from the Israeli to the Lebanese version,
rendered to delicious effect at Karam in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
The flavor-packed meat is loaded onto a pita, then slathered with
a garlicky white sauce that permeates the whole shebang once it's
rolled up and smooshed in a sandwich press. Then it's unwrapped,
garnished with parsley, pickled turnips, lettuce,and tomato and
re-rolled into a $4 meal that will make you forget about falafel
forever --that is, until you get to Alfanoose,
a low-key Lebanese-Syrian falafel joint near Wall Street that shares
Karam's technique of rolling (burrito-style) rather than stuffing
fresh, tasty ingredients into a pliant pita. We love the everything-in-one-bite
effect, which works equally well with falafel, shawarma, and Alfanoose's
signature vegetarian kibbeh, an egg-shaped croquette of bulgur wheat
filled with Swiss chard and chili peppers($3.25-$4.75).