If Banzobar is Run by Taboon, How is Their Pita so Bad!?

The last time we checked in with Banzobar, Anna did a double take when the name switched from Barbanzo, and found her chicken shwarma pita sandwich to be “average to pretty good” Mediterranean fare.¬†After we recently found out that Banzobar was actually managed by the team that brought us Taboon (known for their irresistible flatbread) and Taboonette, we thought it was worth another look!

Since Anna ordered the chicken shwarma and Chris, when it was still Barbanzo, ordered the falafel, I decided to go with what I know best: meat. Beef brisket pita sandwich ($9), slow braised in a Moroccan tomato sauce, with pickled beets, cilantro, and arugula. Meat with a side of beets? Just my speed.

Despite how packed to the brim this sandwich was, there’s no hiding that it’s not pretty. From the minute I opened the foil until my graveyard of napkins at the end, this sandwich was a mess. Beet juices were running, tomatoes were landing on the back of my hand while I took bites, and only after a few bites, my pita broke at the bottom. I grabbed a fork for backup.

My unfortunate pita collapse was a major disappointment because of how awesome Taboon’s bread is. The herbed loaf at Taboon has changed people’s lives! It’s mentioned in pretty much every review of the restaurant out there. I was really bummed to see that the amazing bread didn’t translate over to Banzobar.

Disappointments aside, the pita was packed to the brim, and for that I can’t complain. There’s a serious amount of beef stuffed into the pita with a slightly sweet tomato sauce. You can see the tomato chunks intertwined in the beef above. You also get to add even more toppings from the bar if you want (I added hummus and cucumbers) which makes for pitas on steroids. Thinking about it now, maybe the hummus was the culprit in making my sandwich break. Every bite comes in layers though, so the veggie bites are up top as opposed to the meaty and hummus-y bites towards the bottom.

Midtown Lunch’ers, are there any Banzobar fans out there? Third times a charm, but I still feel pretty so-so about the place in comparison to the other Mediterranean options around. Are we ordering wrong? Is the flatbread stashed away in a secret menu that we don’t know about?

Banzobar, 969 3rd Avenue (btw. 57th and 58th Street)

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