New Ambizza Truck Claims to Have the Best Kofta Kabob in NYC

As I was walking down Vanderbilt Avenue last week, I encountered Ambizza Cafe, a truck I had never seen there or anywhere else before. When I approached and spoke to the woman, it turns out this was only their second day at this location and their first week on the streets. The owners used to run a deli on Columbus Avenue and when that business closed, they moved on to the truck idea.

Looking at the menu, it’s obvious that their roots are in the deli world with breakfast items, hot and cold sandwiches, and salad platters offered alongside a small list of Mediterranean dishes. The sign also claims they serve the best kofta kabob in the city. Those are some fighting words and so it became evident this is what I should order.

The kofta platter came to $7 and included a free drink or water. I paid and then stood to the side to wait for my order. There were a few people coming by to check out this new truck, but there weren’t more than 5 people waiting for their order at a time. It still seemed to take forever and I slowly watched people who ordered after me get their food. I grew a little frustrated and asked if they forgot about me and the lady told me that everybody else ordered chicken and the kofta takes longer. I found that strange, but accepted the answer and I got my food moments later.

I walked it a few blocks to the nearest bench and when I opened it up I was slightly shocked. It was in a big styrofoam container, yet all the food was crammed to one side making it look very sparse and cheap. A smaller container might have tricked me in to thinking I got more for my money.

The kofta itself looked pretty good, but I wish I could say the same for how it tasted. The big problem was that it was inconsistently cooked. The first few bites were overdone and completely dry. Some of the bigger pieces, however, were on the raw side and mushy. And while I noticed some green herbs inside the patty (I even pulled a bay leaf out of my mouth), the lamb was pretty bland throughout. I think they forgot the two most important spices – salt and pepper. They included a tahini sauce and hot sauce (which I’m convinced was just a plastic container of Tabasco) on the side, but neither really saved this meat.

It only got worse when I sampled the yellow rice. Somehow it was crunchy and tasted like small shards of cardboard. The only saving grace on this plate was their decent fries.

I have not tasted all the kofta in NYC so I’m not the one to ask about the best version, but I can assure you this is not it. Perhaps the more generic deli items on Ambizza’s menu fare better. According to their menu, they also offer a Hot Buffet Special (not sure what that is) for $7.50 and different types of burgers and egg dishes. Has anybody else been by and tried their other food?

Ambizza was parked last Friday at Vanderbilt Avenue and 46th Street and they plan to be there again this week. Early adopters, let us know what you think in the comments.


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    If that was my half empty plate I just spent $7 on, I would have walked right back over there and had a word with them.

  • Too bad about the kofta and the lack of a decent serving. Street meats fix elsewhere.

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    I think that I had this the same week and I have to say that my co-worker and I both had the kofta and thought it was delicious. The serving is a little weird bc it is like the kitchen sink – rice, salad, fries, a falafel ball, etc, but the tahini is very good. I’ve never hed kofta before, but mine was cooked perfectly. I do agree on the hot sauce, but if you don’t have a good bottle of hot sauce at your desk, then you are a sucker anyway.

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    The Ambizza mystery continues to unfold…I had it today and the kafta was in a cylindrical form rather than the sliders from last time. For those that are unaware, said kafta is a mix of ground beef and lamb with spices. Like last time though, the meat was tasty and definitely medium rare (if that bothers you, tell them to keep it on the grill longer). The portion was sizeable, the orange rice was good, the fries not so good, the falafel ball was very good, and the salad was good. I would have taken a picture, but my phone is on the fritz. They also gave me 3 side sauces – tahini, hot, and herbed yogurt. The hot is not very hot, but it’s OK. The weird lady who runs the truck says that they are hoping to be on 46th and Vandy regularly.

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