Review: Whaddapita

Whaddapita sends fast Mediterranean fare upscale
By BRIAN DUFF  |  September 29, 2010

NICE SEASONING A chicken souvlaki pita at Whaddapita.

In his novel The Ask, Sam Lipsyte encapsulates the decline of the college-educated male in the inability of the main character, Milo, to imagine a lunch more interesting than a turkey wrap. Something like homemade egg-salad with paprika strikes him as requiring an unfathomable amalgam of planning and whimsy.

It's true: lunch is a problem. But thanks to the sluggish economy, indebted college graduates are less likely to ponder lunch in their cubicles than to get a job making it for those who were lucky enough to claw up the professional ladder in time. This glut of well-educated but jobless youngsters might find purpose in redeeming lunch for the Milos of the world: bringing their energy, intelligence, and discipline into the purveyance of more interesting and healthier fast food.

In this way the new Whaddapita is an indicator of our bright lunch-future. It brings to Mediterranean food the trend of giving upscale-fast-food treatment to regional cuisines, sort of like the BajaFresh chain did with Mexican. It is bright and welcoming, with a bustling staff of college-age kids in yellow T-shirts.

A redesign has transformed the space that was once Chef-et-al. The kitchen has been brought up front, which makes the space less cavernous. The two-tiered dining room is more sensible in this context, and the huge front window lightens the walls of yellow, orange, and green (it's less garish than that sounds). On nice days the windows are folded back so the dining room and patio merge.

Greek food — light, but with rich textures and flavors — lends itself well to the upscale-fast-food concept. The key of course is the quality of the pita, and Whaddapita makes good ones: warm and soft, with some good chew and flavor. They are wrapped around a dignified-sized pile of ingredients, rather than stuffed to bursting.

A chicken souvlaki pita came with a few juicy slices of nicely seasoned white meat — a bit more would have been welcome — nuzzled up with some tender but crisp-edged french fries, slices of tomato and onion, and a mildly sour yogurt sauce. A pork gyro pita was just as good. The meat was rich, tender, and just a touch oily, as gyro meat goes. A very mild, mayonnaise-like sauce did not drown out the meats' herbs and marinade. An eggplant pita might have been best of all, since the vegetable was terrifically creamy, smoky, and garlicky — but the flavor was obscured by a bit too much of a thick spicy feta sauce.

That sauce was better enjoyed on its own, served in an orange-pink mound with triangles of pita. There was a lot of pepper, which cut through the richness of the feta and gave the dip a pleasant kick. The menu offers plenty of these "side dishes," which invite us to reject solitary-cubicle snacking and share a meal. I particularly liked the tender, slick little dolmades, with their creamy, lemony rice interior. Zucchini fritters, served with a sour tzatziki sauce, looked like squashy little hush-puppies. Fried, but still soft and recognizably vegetal, a little greasy and a little healthy, they hit exactly the middle ground Whaddapita is going for.

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