Every since we got a Chipotle in town, New Haven restaurateurs have really been embracing the “build your own” business model. Though a handful of options in Downtown New Haven come to mind (Tikkaway is pretty popular with the local lolita crowd), the newest player on the scene is Pitaziki. The small, bright restaurant located across the street from the Omni Hotel seems to do mostly takeout orders, though the welcoming staff and interesting options make dining in a pleasure as well.
As the name suggests, the menu is full of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare, such as classics like falafel, shawarma, and their most popular combination, shawafel, which is exactly what it sounds like, and is also amazing. Customers first select their “style” – rice bowl, salad, wrap, or pita – then their protein, toppings, and sides. The offerings aren’t terribly creative; they offer shawerma chicken or steak, falafel, or grilled veggies for their protein options, which is a shorter list than most Middle Eastern restaurants. They make up for it, though, with a huge bar of toppings, almost all of which taste like they were prepared in-house. Traditional taboule and baba ghanoush are joined by fried cauliflower, chickpea salad, and cilantro beans, as well as a handful of sauces with similar diversity between common and intriguing. A handful of pizza options are also available, but I prefer the build-your-own bar. Alcohol is not served, but bottled beverages and a soft drink machine are both available. Prices are on the low end for New Haven standards – you’d pay more for a much less interesting burrito and dining experience at Chipotle.
The small restaurant feels much bigger on the inside than it is, due to its bright and simple decor. The feeling of freshness and cleanliness come from the color palette of white, lime green, and natural wood. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and add to the welcoming air of the establishment. Whether eating in or taking out, Pitaziki is a great option for a quick lunch or a late night bite.