Amali Takes Their Wood and Charcoal Burning Grill to the Street
As you round the corner on 60th Street at Park Avenue, just on the brink of Midtown East, wafts of barbecue grilled meat greet you. If you follow that smell, you end up half way down the block where a wood and charcoal burning grill sits on the front patio of Amali Restaurant, surrounded by a wooden lattice with an adorable take out counter to order from. With quite possibly the only wood and charcoal burning grill out on the street in Midtown Manhattan, Amali has rolled out Amali Street Food for lunch this summer, and they’re serving up some pretty awesome sandwiches with the new outdoor grill!
Amali Street Food, which continues to build on Amali’s reputation for farm-to-table Mediterranean fare currently features three entrees concocted by Chef Junior Borges (Diner, Colicchio & Sons): the Pork or Chicken Gyro Style Sandwich, True Greek Salad, and the Mediterranean BLT (all $10 each), as well as two original house drinks, the Saffron Arnold Palmer and the Vissinada ($3 each). I opted to go Pork Gyro Sandwich for my first go around!
This isn’t just any pork gyro you get off the street – it’s much classier. First off, thanks to that wood and charcoal burning grill, the pork served in the gyro is charred with crispy bits on the outside, but extremely tender on the inside, which pulls apart easily. The menu also gives you two choices of sauces for the gyro: either the Classic Herb Yogurt Sauce or the Modern Harissa Yogurt Sauce. I went Harissa and didn’t look back. It gives the whole sandwich a little bit of a kick, but nothing too in your face, and not as heavy as the standard white sauces you expect from street pita.
And yes, that’s right, there are fries in there! Not on the side, but INSIDE the gyro. The fries give the whole thing a nice crisp. Come to think of it, having fries in the gyro reminded me a little bit of having a California Burrito from San Diego, and I was into it. The pita itself also held up really well after being toasted on the grill. But about that bread – I did go to Amali Street Food three times, and on my second trip, the bread delivery never made it, which left me trying to figure out what I’d do with myself up at 60th Street. I’d like to think that this has been worked out by now, but it does look like Amali Street Food has been running out by 1:30, so best to get there early for the goods.
There’s also some heirloom tomato, red onion, and arugla in the gyro sandwich to fill it out. At $10, I wish this sandwich was bigger, as it’s a bit steep, especially when I know I can go to Uncle Gussy’s and get my favorite “lamby sammy” with fries on the side for $8. Despite that, Amali does take the Pork Gyro to a new level with their grilled meat and harissa yogurt sauce.
On my third trip, I went for the Mediterranean BLT, which is clearly, hands down the thing you need to get at Amali Street Food. This sandwich rocked. Braised pork belly ON TOP of bacon. Oh my…
Served on buttery focaccia bread, every bite of this sandwich was memorable. Having both the braised pork belly and the bacon gave this sandwich both the fatty texture and crispy texture of bacon simultaneously, which was pretty amazing. The focaccia is spread with a savory garlic aioli, and the pork sits on a light orange heirloom tomato and some arugula. The heirloom tomato stays fresh and doesn’t get mushy at all. I think I might start making all BLTs with heirloom tomatoes from now on because of this. But seriously. That grill that Amali has makes all the difference in separating their sandwiches from all the other street meat out there.
My only regret once again, here, is that the sandwich is too small for $10. I get that we’re getting both braised pork belly and bacon at the same time (and it is amazing!) but I definitely finished the sandwich wanting more.
To wash it all down, I ordered the Vissinada ($3), which is an original Amali Street Food drink of Greek Sour Cherry juice mixed with club soda. I really enjoyed this drink, especially because of how refreshing it was on a hot summer day. Not too sour, and not too sweet, with just a light carbonation.
All in all, though the portions are a little small, Amali Street Food is rocking the meats (and especially the pork) pretty hard on that wood and charcoal burning grill. I’m definitely interested in how their menu will evolve, especially as I heard they were considering fish on the menu in the next couple of months. In the mean time, get at that Mediterranean BLT!
Amali Street Food, 115 East 60th Street (btw. Park & Lex), 12pm until they run out