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Restaurants & Bars 6

Olympic Pita

Iron Frank | Apr 8, 2003 01:18 AM

After riding the Q train for a half an hour, getting out at avenue J in the middle of an snowstorm, and walking past Dom in the window of DiFara's I felt I was definitely making a mistake. My Chowsenses were definitely strongly pulling me towards Olympic Pita as I've wanted to try it for ages and see if it really did put the usual Manhattan choices to shame. I've been enjoying Israeli-style pita sandwiches with various types and styles of fillings at Village Shawerma, Hoomos Asli, Hadom, Mr. Broadway, and a couple of places in the Diamond District which aren't worth remembering.

By the time I found Coney Island Avenue I had a watermark around my calves and was thoroughly frustrated from the punishing sleet and sheet of ice I was sliding on. The warmth of the bread ovens at Olympic Pita were quite a welcome reprieve. Sopping wet in a soggy hooded sweatshirt and hungry I lurched toward the table of bored waitresses and uttered something unintelligible to them that sounded like "lafah" in my head. They eventually figured out what I was talking about and pointed me to the cashier. I ordered a shawarma on a lafah (a huge sesame-dotted pita dough-based bread that closely resembles the size and general appearance of a medium pizza without any toppings). The counterman generously shmeared it with chumus and then piled on the mixed turkey and chicken shawarma. I was dizzied by the choices of salads to pile ontop of the meaty beast. I opted for some pickles, moroccan salad, and some cole slaw variants. The spicy mango based hot sauced added an extra level of depth to the whole beautiful mess. Still at this point it looked a hell of a lot like a fatter version of a lot of the sandwiches I'd eaten at various midtown kosher joints albeit on a lot fresher bread. It was huge though, three people could have comfortably feasted on this thing and been full enough to endure a hunger strike for a week afterward.

On first bite though I knew this was an entirely different species of sandwich. The meat was so tender and perfectly spiced. The crunchy pickles, salads, and sauces all piling up in a tower of flavor. The turkey and chicken mix was so peppery it tasted more like pastrami than most of the milder chicken based shawarma I've had around town. The warm, dense bread elevated the whole thing to perfection. I ate half of it and decided it was pure bliss and I didn't want to go any further in risk of diminishing returns, that and a ruptured abdomen.

I walked out totally stuffed and noticed Chiffon's, a bakery I'd read about somewhere on my net searches. I decided that I had to suffer for my cause and procure a sample for my recent hamentashen research. The hamentashen wasn't that special, I like Moishes on second ave a lot better but I did really enjoy a tiny oblong petit four layered with strawberry preserves and cream. I've been obsessed with the vision of petit four since childhood when the Swiss Colony catalog would arrive before the holidays. Oddly enough I'd never tried one before today and it was as if my life was finally made complete. That carrot dangling before my nose all those years had finally been caught up with and boy was it sweet. I walked to the train with a half of sandwich in my pocket and a smile on my face. The sandwich only made it to Canal St. before it was devoured but the smile lasted the rest of the day.


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