Review: Jerusalem Pita & Grill

Savory, kosher, and so much more
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  January 6, 2011
2.0 2.0 Stars

You get the same grilled vegetables with chicken shawarma ($15.95/dinner; $10.95/pita sandwich; $12.95/laffa sandwich), nicely crisped at the edges, and the salad, unless you opt for French fries (good-tasting but limp, as one might expect from a fry machine set to a lower temperature for sambusaks and cigars). They use the same vertical rotisserie for a mixture of chicken, lamb, and beef known here as meorav Yerushalmi ($16.95; $11.95; $12.95), which is a spicy hash of chicken giblets. Lamb shish kebab ($18.95; $12.95; $13.95) mentions "secret spices," but they aren't overpowering in a nicely made if somewhat overdone platter of lamb chunks.

Jerusalem Pita has a variety of local and international drinks, including Israeli beer and a few kosher wines from the Middle East and California. For soft drinks, there are Israeli nectars and a non-alcoholic malt beverage that is mostly for those who grew up on it (Puerto Rican "malta" is similar). Turkish coffee ($5) is a semi-hemi-demitasse of deadly elixir, with just enough grounds to swirl at the end, flip the cup down inverted, and read fortunes in the patterns. I see, for 2011, masks of comedy and tragedy - a dramatic year.

Desserts are plated from take-out portions on the counter, but house-made. The baklava ($4.95) has a dense and waxy nut filling with shredded kataifi pastry, not my favorite. Chocolate cake ($5.95), even without butter, is intensely flavored — wonderful. A whole basket of apricot squares ($4.50) are surprisingly close to butter cookies. We took some home. The house nougat cake ($5), more like caramel nut, is the kind of thing where a kosher dairy restaurant would use buttercream to advantage. And a kosher meat restaurant cannot.

For a spot little bigger than a basic sushi bar, Jerusalem Pita manages to have décor and atmosphere. The former is built around a mosaic of rough-cut stones that make up the bar, and a mural of a desert view through an ancient arch of orange "Jerusalem stone." The muzak runs to Israeli and religious old-school; a kind of folk-disco arrangement of the Israeli national anthem was playing as I came in. The crowd is young, dressed in religious uniforms or casual yarmulkes, or nothing notable at all. The nostalgia factor surely counts for secular Israeli émigrés from the neighborhood. But there is no barrier for a hungry pagan to chow down, so long as he or she keeps the praise of Baal, Astarte, or Marduk under the breath.

Robert Nadeau can be reached atrobtnadeau@aol.com.

JERUSALEM PITA & GRILL | 10 PLEASANT STREET, BROOKLINE | 617.739.2400 |JERUSALEMPITA.COM| OPEN SUNDAY-THURSDAY, 10 AM–10 PM; FRIDAY, 10 AM–3 PM; AND SATURDAY, 6–10 PM (FALL/WINTER ONLY) | MC, VI | BEER AND WINE | NO VALET PARKING | ACCESS UP SLIGHT THRESHOLD BUMP

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