709 Ninth Ave (49th St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 245-0709
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
2nd Cuisine: Druse
Area: West 40s
Entree Price: $10-15
At Gazala Place, in Hell's Kitchen, you'll often find chef Halabi Gazala fast at work making homemade pitas in the window. They are light and flavorful, and a staple for the Middle Eastern and Druze dishes that are served here.
Start with one of the traditonal dips, like a smokey babaganush, or houmus drizzled with virgin olive oil. The menu also boasts a large selection of freshly baked breads and pies. There's Zatar topped with herbs and sesame seeds; Lahem Bel Ageen, a traditional open-faced meat pie, and homemade spinach and cheese pies. The spinach pie alone could easily serve as a light meal. It's filled with a mixture of feta and spinach baked in filo dough until lightly browned and sprinked with black caraway seeds. Very yummy. There's also a version made with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes.
The menu is also big on salads, making it a perfect spot for vegetarians. The Tabouli salad, made with chopped parsley, tomato, scallion and Burgol wheat, is light and lemony. There's also Fattoush, a minty salad topped with bits of toasted pita.
Entrees include several types of kebabs; including lamb, chicken and kafta made with a mix of ground meat, parsley and onion that is grilled on a skewer. All three can also be purchased as sandwiches along with falafel. The specialty this night was stuffed artichokes. The artichoke hearts are cooked until fork soft and then filled with bits of marinated lamb and pine nuts. It's very nice.
And don't leave without trying a piece of pistachio baklava dripping in honey. It's so good you might want to order a second piece to take home.
Review By: Thomas Rafael