Jerusalem Pita and Grill

Fresh, kosher, and underrated online
By MC SLIM JB  |  April 1, 2009


It's important to know your amateur online reviewers. While some are reliable cheap-eats dowsers, a rave from a Chowhound who also adores the Cheesecake Factory loses some credibility. Likewise, Yelpers occasionally gang up unfairly on worthwhile places, as happened to Jerusalem Pita, a kosher Israeli joint in Coolidge Corner. After several terrific meals here, I'm demoting anyone who panned it online to my "dubious" list.

Soups ($4.95/bowl) impress out of the gate with rich spicing, as in white bean with lamb. The meat is invisible except as a background stock flavor. Hummus in the house special asli ($7.95) is very fine: a big bowl topped with oil, paprika, and tender whole chickpeas, served with excellent puffy Israeli pita. Burekas, baked puff pastry stuffed with mushrooms ($2.95) or mashed potatoes ($2.95), feature lovely flaky crusts and tahini for dipping. Moroccan cigars ($5.95), tubes of deep-fried phyllo stuffed with mashed potatoes or spiced ground beef, are crisp but lamentably greasy. The enormous falafel sandwich ($6.95/pita, $7.95/easier-to-handle laffa) features gorgeous, crunchy, bright-green-inside falafel with favas and chickpeas, dressed with hummus, tahini, salad, pickles, and fiery green-chili relish.

Entrée plates include pita and two sides: baked potato, fries, lightly pickled grilled vegetables, or rice. Oddly, the rice one day is superb, saffron-tinged and aromatic with fresh thyme; on another, it's unimaginatively dull. I hope you get the good rice with the turkey shawarma plate ($14.95), which is stunning, seasoned with a secret spice blend including turmeric, and possessed of that perfect balance of succulence (from judicious interleaving of fat in the pressed roast of whole turkey fillets) and crispness (from rotisserie grilling on a vertical spit prior to slicing). Less transporting is the meorav Yerushalmi ($16.95), a mix of spiced, grilled, sliced lamb, beef, chicken, and onions minus the traditional chicken heart, spleen, and liver, which would add some needed richness. Jerusalem kebab ($16.95), cylinders of ground lamb and beef with gyros-like spicing, are finely grilled to smokiness with a moist pink interior — wonderful.

Few will leave here hungry after complimentary mezze, like zataar (grilled herbed flatbread) and house-pickled vegetables. Drinks include yeasty Israeli pilsner Maccabee ($4.95), Jump strawberry/banana fruit drink ($2.50), and Nesher ($2.50), a dark and sugary malt beverage. Meager staffing means service can be leisurely, so throw an extra quarter in the parking meter. And add some trust to your estimation of any online reviewer who praises this sunny, inviting space, where kosher certification guarantees you freshness and care in the kitchen.

Jerusalem Pita, located on 10 Pleasant Street, in Brookline, is open Sunday–Thursday, 10 am–two hours before sunset; and Saturday (in fall and winter only), 6 pm–midnight. Call 617.739.2400.

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