Pitopia Serves Up a Solid Falafel
Pitopia opened in November, and it proceeded to narrowly overtake falafel favorite Taim in the 2011 readers’ poll. It’s pretty shocking for a newbie to win over Midtown — we are, after all, a pretty tough crowd — so quickly and easily and with such stiff competition. I’m of the mind that Taim is one of the best trucks on our streets today, but since they clearly must be doing something right at Pitopia, I finally went to check it out.
The star of the show at Pitopia is the falafel. Brown and crispy on the outside, and moist and green on the inside, these falafel beat the pants off the ones at nearby Maoz, but I still prefer Taim’s overall. (I have yet to try the King of Falafel & Shawarma Express, though.) Overall, Pitopia does a solid job, and their falafel were especially good dipped in garlic sauce.
The build-your-own-lunch format at Pitopia is similar to Maoz, except that they lack those addictive Belgian fries. Having learned from my lunches at Maoz, I opted for the falafel salad ($8.95) over a pita sandwich, because I like lots of salad bar toppings, and I like those toppings to stay in my food and not fall all over the place. The salad came with a choice of greens (or no greens at all) and 5 falafel balls. I added on fried eggplant and grilled onions ($.75 each), which unfortunately ended up pushing me over the ML limit (whoops!). Then I went to town on the salad bar: tabouli, chickpea salad, cabbage, tomato and eggplant salad, fried broccoli and cauliflower and several sauces on the side.
The toppings were a mix of hits and misses. The fried eggplant breading was too heavy, and absorbed the moisture from my other salad toppings, making it soggy. I would skip that next time. The sweetness of the grilled onions was very nice, but I wish I had gotten more than just a tablespoon. Not sure they’re worth the money either. There were some standouts in the salad bar, including the chickpea salad and the tomato and eggplant salad. I also really enjoyed the fried broccoli and cauliflower (skip the steamed stuff). The tabouli and Maoz definitely outshines that from Pitopia, where it taste wet and flat instead of fresh and herbaceous. Absolutely load up on sauces (especially garlic and cilantro) — they are great for dipping.
The + (What someone who likes this place would say)
- These falafel beat the pants off Maoz’s.
- I like to build my own lunch, and the salad bar is unlimited! Go big, or go home!
- Hello, delicious garlic sauce!
The – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Taim is the gold standard for falafel.
- Salad bar is a mix of hits and misses, and gets super messy when I layer it all on.
- Since they’re the same basic format, I’m going to Maoz, because of the Belgian fries.
Pitopia, 1369 Broadway (at 37th St), 212-792-6765