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03.26.08

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First Bite

Pita Cafe Mediterranean Grill

By Beth Hall

E ditor's note: First Bite is a new concept in restaurant writing. This is not a go-three-times, try-everything-on-the-menu report; rather, this is a quick snapshot of a single experience. We invite you to come along with our writers as they—informed, intelligent eaters like yourselves—have a simple meal at an area restaurant, just like you do.

The never-ending drumbeat of the pregnant woman is, "Give me delicious, interesting food and give it to me now ." And because conflict is the blessed spice of life, throw in a husband who, if not for intervention, would subsist solely on pizza and Oreos. Now, watch us try to decide on a place to eat, quickly and without angst. Luckily, the perfect compromise between exotic and ordinary exists at Rohnert Park's Pita Cafe. Stomachs growling, the preggo took the obliging husband to sample its Mediterranean delights.

An oasis in a strip mall, Pita has the corner on coziness, featuring dim lights, linen tablecloths and quiet music. Upon seating ourselves and being greeted by a friendly waitress, we took a brief glance at the menu and decided on Moroccan mint green iced tea ($2.25), a delightfully spicy mix of dark green tea with floating mint leaves.

We started with dolmas ($5.95), seasoned rice tightly wrapped in grape leaves. The grape leaves had a vinegar tang reminiscent of gourmet olives and were a bit too kicky for our taste buds. Other appetizers are offered, but if you're budget-conscious, they are not a necessity, as the entrée portions are more than generous.

Dinner choices can be challenging, considering the variety that is offered. Should I follow prenatal law and order a Greek salad ($9.75), with all those vitamin-y mixed greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese and basil vinaigrette, or a big bowl of lentil soup ($4.95)? Nah. I opted for indulgence with a falafel wrap ($8.25)—crispy falafel patties, tomato, and pickles with hummus spread and tahini sauce. One bite of crunchiness sent me into falafel heaven.

For those husbands whose happy eyes water at the sight of the good ol' beef-burger-on-a-bun with french fries ($8.50), rejoice to know that this is the one American choice on the menu. This husband, however, lived it up with the chicken shawarma ($8.95), thin slices of grilled marinated chicken with tomato, garlic spread, pickles and parsley with a side of parsley-sprinkled french fries ($1 extra). He commented that it was just like the food he had eaten while on a month-long trip to Israel, earning it a shiny gold star for authenticity. The meltingly marinated shawarma was decidedly our favorite.

In the continued spirit of indulgence, we ordered baklava ($2.50) for dessert. A palm-sized cube of thin, crispy, walnut-encrusted filo dough layers was the perfect palate-pleaser to conclude our rich and filling meal.

Pita Cafe is best kept to a once-in-a-while treat. Tempting choices of fried foods and rich sauces abound, though crisp green salads are available. This post-dinner preggo was fully content, though, and the baby even began kicking approvingly. Uh-oh. I think he's developed a taste for falafel. I better get back on the spinach salad train.


Pita Cafe Mediterranean Grill, 6585 Commerce Blvd., Ste. #C, Rohnert Park. Open for lunch and dinner daily. 707.588.9522.


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Quick-and-dirty dashes through North Bay restaurants. These aren't your standard "bring five friends and order everything on the menu" dining reviews.