Vegetarian’s The Way To Go At Pita Express
Whenever a craving for something tasty and vegetarian hits, the usual suspects flow into my brain, namely any number of carts serving great falafel. Sometimes I want more than fried chickpea orbs, and the other day I decided to revisit Pita Express on Ann St. (btw. Nassau & B’way) because I remembered I’d had a phenomenal chicken pita sandwich there last year and had vowed to go back to try the delicious array of Israeli salads and dips behind glass at the counter. The glatt kosher restaurant wasn’t as busy as normal but that may have been because it was Friday heading into a long weekend. I ended up ordering a vegetarian sampler platter and despite telling myself I wouldn’t be able to eat everything and still function after lunch, I did anyway and it was worth it.
Unless you’re in the mood to ask a lot of questions during the busy lunch hour, you’re going to have to roll with the vague descriptions on the menu. What’s the difference between baby chicken shish kabob and chicken shish kabob? Combination platter vs. falafal plate? And what’s a vegetable cutlet? I just went for it and ordered the vegetarian combo platter ($8.95) which was dished up while simultaneously taking a phone order. Multi-tasking!
This plate involved a bottom layer of mixed greens, a hefty portion of Israeli salad with tomato, cucumber and parsley, fluffy hummus, some smoky eggplant and the reddish dip (Turkish salad?) that involved finely chopped celery in a base of tomatoes and red peppers. You get four falafel balls on top of this and a thick and fluffy pita that I raved about in my previous review of their sandwich.
Yes, you can get falafel and hummus at many places down here, but these were of a different variety than you get at normal carts. I can’t really decide if the falafel was supposed to be the way it was, but it was thick and almost doughy without the greasy crispy crust that you get most places. That being said I ate it at the end of my lunch after it had been sitting on a bunch of moisture-filled salads and hummus for a while, and it tasted really good. I think the falafel would fare better in a sandwich here.
The winners on this plate were the Turkish salad and hummus. When paired with the pita, I could have eaten this for lunch and been happy. Sorry to burst the bubble, but sometimes I need a break from meaty lunches and it’s not quite soup weather yet.
Pita Express is a little pricier than other similar options in the area, but I find that their Israeli twists on the standard pita fare is solid.
Pita Express, 15 Ann St. (btw. Nassau & B’way), (212) 571-2999, www.pitaexpressnyc.com