Gazala Place Review: Boureka and kafta at Gazalas Place
Normally you wouldn’t expect to find a one-of-a-kind restaurant in Hells Kitchen. It wasn’t too long ago that the neighborhood was a seedy place marked by crazy homeless people and prostitutes. Now you can find a delicious Druze restaurant in the western boundries of Midtown. The Druze are a religious minority in the Middle East and the proprietor of Gazala Place on 9th avenue is from a Druze community in Isreal. At Gazala’s you can order many of the same things you see at falafel places, such as falafel, hommus, tabouli, and grape leaves. A couple of novel items you may get at the restaurant include their homemade pita that’s extra thin, and bourekas.
If you’re unfamiliar with bourekas, read about them here. It’s popular in the area of the world near by Turkey, Greece, and the Middle East. It’s simply a pastry that can be baked or fried, and filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables. At Gazala Place, the two variety that were on hand that day were cheese with spinach and cheese with sun dried tomatoes. I picked the one with spinach.
The first thing I noticed about my boureka was that it was hefty. It’s a big piece of pastry and quite heavy as well. The ratio of weigh to volume was in my favor, mostly because I like to shove food into my stomach til I cry. Booyah. The boureka didn’t disappoint. At $8 it’s priced about right for what you get, which is basically a giant ball of flaky pastry with cheese. This might not be a smart lunch for someone trying to lose weight, but it’s still difficult to figure out how to discount present pleasures for future happiness. As a glutton, I like to settle for being the kind of kid who fails at the marshmallow experiment.
If you’re in the mood for something lighter and cheaper, the kafta wrap ($6) is a good choice. There’s no cheese at all in the wrap and it features their homemade pita. The Druze pita is called sagg pita and it’s named after the domed shaped griddle they use to make the paper thin bread. The pita is actually not a very good as a wrapper because it breaks very easily since it is very thin.
The situation in which you find yourself is that the pita promptly breaks everywhere and sauce dribbles all over your fingers. This is not necessarily a bad thing depending on how messy you like your lunch. After the pita wrap tears, it reveals an abundance of lettuce, some tomatoes, and two links of kafta. The star of the wrap is the kafta, and I would gladly go back for more. My only complaint would be that the ratio of meat to vegetables skews heavily towards the rabbit food.
Finding a place like Gazala’s Place in Hells Kitchen is really a treat. It goes to show that good food can be anywhere in New York City. 9th Avenue may be a bit far for most individuals, although if you find yourself in that area, it’s worth a visit. The restaurant’s website mentions they also have a location in the UWS, so that might be more convenient for some. If you get a chance to go, maybe you can tell me what you think of the bourekas.
Gazala Place709 9th Ave.New York, NY 10036212-245-0709
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