Lunch’er Michael Reports: Pitopia is Better Than Maoz!?
Yesterday we let you know that Pitopia was now open on Broadway and 37th, and Lunch’er Michael couldn’t wait to try it (plus score his free side salad.) He was kind enough to send in this early report:
Hey Zach, Got a review of Pitopia from their falafel freeloader soft-launch special. Long story short, I’m very impressed.
The assembly line basically is Maoz‘s concept. No fancy mint lemonade or fresh-squeezed OJ (yet?) but there are cold drink mixer machines not yet configured. Avocado is extra, but it’s there. [Also] hard-boiled eggs, eggplant, roast green and red peppers… pickled peppers, green and red olives, chickpea salad, beet salad, eggplant salad, pickled tomato and onion salad, not to be confused with Israeli salad… shredded white cabbage, tabouli salad (it’s just bulgur wheat with herbs – not nearly enough parsley to be real tabouli), red cabbage salad, and at the far end, spicy tomato and green tomato sauces. Not pictured: squeeze tubes of tahini, garlic sauce, and cliantro sauce.
The salads are head and shoulders far better than Maoz. The eggplant salad is garlicky and savory, with enough tomato to it to impart a good color and texture. Do not miss the spicy green tomato sauce – a little dab will do ya – it has an amazingly perfect kick to it. Honestly, skip the tabouli salad entirely and just fill up on Israeli and eggplant salad. Both are darn near perfect examples. The red cabbage is a good bulk-builder for your salads, and the garlic sauce is enough to be flavorful but not enough to make your breath stinky.
The base pita is amazingly fluffy, more like a focaccia cut open, and seems dense. Maybe too filling, but in my opinion, perfect to prevent against pita-based structural failure. Pickles, shredded white cabbage, Israeli salad, pickles, tahini, and falafel go into the pita in that order (so you don’t have to dig down to get at the falafel, but on the other side, your pita is slowly getting saturated from the bottom). So once you complete your pita and/or salad bowl (my “salad bowl” was just a small plastic container, no lettuce, no cheese, nothing) you can pack up the pita in these well-designed cardboard carrier cases [which look incredibly similar to the Crisp Handbags]. This is a great move – it’s a lot easier to carry them than a pita that’s been wrapped up. It’s also got enough room that you can walk and eat. Just slide the pita in and close it up, and you’re off. (Mine’s already half torn open)
[The falafel itself is] definitely better than Maoz – it has more crunch to it, but it’s got a nice yielding texture in the middle. You get a lot of flavor, lots of garlic and spices to it without being too spicy. That upper half of the bread is all dense bread. It’s good, though. No overdose of green, so it doesn’t look particularly alien.
Maoz-killer? I think so. It’s tough to judge a global chain against a startup (their website goes nowhere and they don’t seem to be anywhere other than Midtown Lunch at the moment) but I have no regrets saying that Pitopia makes fresher stuff and better falafel than Maoz. Me, I’m still a Mahmoun’s and Rainbow Falafel loyalist, but the bar is quite well set by Pitopia.
Pitopia, 1369 Broadway. 212-792-6765