If there’s a restaurant on Long Island more difficult to find than Pita House in East Setauket, well, I suppose I’ll never find it. It’s not that it’s out of the way, (it’s behind the Wild By Nature on Rte. 25A), it’s just that its located inside an office complex called Heritage Square. Armed with Mapquest and Google Maps printouts, it can still make your GPS lady recalculate herself into a conniption. But it’s definitely worth finding.
Open almost two years, this spin-off is a big step up from the 18-year-old Patchogue locale. Behind the mundane façade is a spacious, neo-classically decorated room, designed to feign opulence. Twenty well-spaced tables sit under columns, arches and friezes. The menu is serious Turkish. No mezze sampler or stuffed pide here. The only pide is the namesake bread, hot off the grill but in need of the dill yogurt sauce that comes with everything else. Hearty Turkey Orzo Soup ($2.90) is familiar and welcome. But for something out of the ordinary try the puréed Red Lentil Soup ($2.90) with a lemon wedge squeezed over it. Another unusual starter I’ve never seen, Stuffed Potato Balls, or Icli Kofe ($6.50), yields two large deep fried meatballs under a potato crust.
The moist, greaseless, homemade lamb and beef that makes up the Gyro-Doner Kebab Sandwich ($6.95) will have you rethinking your everyday over-processed gyro. The meat is sliced and charcoal grilled for added flavor. Get it as a dinner ($13.95) and you’ll have the option to get what they call Bulgur Rice but is actually whole wheat, their version infused with pepper and other spices. Steamed and stewed vegetables come with all platters as well as a soup or a salad at dinner.
I liked the Shepherd’s Salad ($4) chopped with parsley and dressed in just olive oil and lemon. There are several fish kebabs and market-driven fish specials but we mostly made our way through the grilled meats. Filet Mignon Kebab ($24), tender cubes benefiting from the marinade, is cooked just right. I couldn’t resist picking up each of the succulent Lamb Chops ($26), charbroiled and tender, to finish off every last bit. Adana Kebab ($14.95) is perfectly rendered, the long cylinder of ground lamb seasoned perfectly. For something different try Turkey Gyro-Doner Kebab ($6.95/$14.50), sliced into small bits and somehow grilled just right.
Good Turkish Custard ($3.50) is like a sturdier version of flan, flavored with cinnamon.
There are maybe a dozen Turkish restaurants on LI, with names like Pita and Mediterranean—none of them have “Turkish” in their name—but Pita House offers true, upscale Turkish cuisine worth getting lost for awhile.
Last week, Luzzo’s in Westbury, the offspring of the East Village original known for its thin crust, coal-fired pizzas, open just five months, suddenly took the name of their partner, and is now called Scotto.
Get instant news on restaurants on LI and everywhere else Ron Beigel eats; follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TweatersDigest and on Facebook by searching “Eaters Digest-LI Press.”