Middle Eastern on Washtenaw
As we settled in to order appetizers, I asked if it were possible to get a custom meze sampler rather than one of the preset combinations. The reply was yes, for a price ($14). They built a special selection of karnabeet, sujok, kibbe, and stuffed grape leaves. The karnabeet was just good, not stellar, but the sujok and the kibbe made up for it. The spicy little lamb-beef sujok sausages, flavored with garlic and cayenne, were served in a sort of tomato cream sauce. Pita Pita's outstanding kibbe are cracked-wheat croquettes about the size and shape of a duck egg, stuffed with a mix of ground lamb, onions, and pine nuts. The whole thing is then deep fried, so that it gets a crispy hard shell while the savory cen-ter remains moist. Grape leaves filled with rice and ground lamb were skillfully executed as well. Our entrees included a choice of soup or salad. A bowl of lentil soup was under-seasoned, but had a hearty wholesomeness that reminded me of old-fashioned split-pea soup. The fattoush side salad was fresh and well dressed.
Given the range of appetizers, main courses played second fiddle. On a platter featuring two types of shawarma, the beef was more exotically spiced and juicier than the chicken. My chicken ghallaba was a hearty sauté of peppers, onion, and cubed chicken breast. Pita Pita's starches need work-French fries were pale and nearly flavorless, the rice with vermicelli and the flat bread only marginally better. Each entree was enough for two or three to split. Given the portion sizes, dessert was out of the question, but I took home a couple of pieces of baklava for later, and they were good. Then again, who can argue with flaky pastry, cashews, and pistachios?
Service was fast and personable. All in all, from the humble diner ambiance to the authentic, well priced food, Pita Pita is, even belatedly, a find.