709 9th Ave (49th), Hell’s Kitchen
We recently went to Gazala Place a little storefront in Hell’s Kitchen that has been getting significant press as a quality cheap eat. Mediterranean food always sounds good to us, as it is generally flavorful, cheap and healthy. Even before we walked through the door, we saw a woman baking burekas right in the front window, and knew we were in for a treat. Apparently, Gazala Place specializes in Druse cuisine, food from the mountains of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. We had some familiar basics: a platter of falafel, baba ghanouj, hummus and tabbouleh. All contained bright, fresh flavors. We also tried a few dishes new to us: Mankosha Zatar Pie – fresh baked pita shell topped with oregano, olive oil and sesame seed and Lahem Bel Ageen Meat Pie – fresh baked pita shell topped with chopped meat, tomato sauce, sun dry tomato and pine nuts. Both were excellent. The Zatar pie was so simple, yet so flavorful. The sesame seed crust provided a rugged texture that brought out the olive oil and oregano. The meat pie balanced all the flavors by adding pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes. Of course we had to finish with one of those big puffy burekas. This one had goat cheese(!), our most hated food, yet it was mild and combined with super flaky, doughy goodness, it was delicious.
So next time you are in Hell’s Kitchen and want to try a new cuisine, Gazala Place is very approachable and comforting. I’m giving it a Golden Bonzone.