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Jan 10, 2000 06:54 PM

Turkish Pizzeria and Restaurant near Midtown tunnel?

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There is a pizzeria with a Turkish restaurant in the back on 34th, near the midtown tunnel, I think between 2nd and 3rd on the South side of the Street. I think that it was written up by either Eric Asimov, or in NY Magazine.

Has anyone been there, or does anyone recall a review? I searched the board and found nothing.

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  1. Alan, I knew it sounded familiar -- it was posted right here on Chowhound. The URL is below.
    Don't know why your search came up empty. In any case, I found it by scrolling back through the current Manhattan posts.
    Love to hear if you try it.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Helen

      Funny! I just ordered from Ali Baba tonight. The place is a godsend to Murray Hill dwellers, and what's more, THEY DELIVER.

      The lammajun are simply heaven: flat, stretchy bread with warm ground lamb, served with fresh onions, ground sumac, coriander and chunks of lemon. They cost $2 each.

      Also tasty is the fresh, cooling tabouleh and the unctuous eggplant with sauce (not the eggplant salad or the fried eggplant, though both of those are good too).

      The place is located on 34th St. just east of Third Avenue, on the south side of the street. Looks just like a regular pizza joint from the front, and even inside the Turkish menu isn't posted -- you have to ask for it.

      I've eaten there or ordered from there 7 or 8 times and never had less than a stellar experience.


      1. re: Patrick A.

        Thanks, Helen and Patrick.

        Did you notice if the back of the restaurant is more restaurant-y that pizzeria like? We are going with some out of town family, and while we are not looking for elegance (our last excursion with them was to Nyonya) we do want a place where we can sit and talk for a while.

        1. re: Alan Divack

          Hi Alan,

          Yes, there's a sit-down area in the back that actually seems to have some ambiance. Only 6 or 7 tables, but there are many parties of Turkish people sitting, eating and talking for long periods of time, and it's not too brightly lit.


          1. re: Patrick A.

            looking forward to trying ali baba, since i live in the 'hood...on a related note, has anyone been to the turkish kitchen (3rd btwn 27/28, i think)? any thoughts?

            1. re: felicia

              Hi Felicia,

              I went to Turkish Kitchen once and thought it was awful... gloppy sauces and undistinguishable flavors. I think the place trades on its ambiance -- all the hangings and carpets etc.

              What's your favorite Indian in the area?


              1. re: Patrick A.


                thanks for the tip. i had a feeling turkish kitchen might be the sort of place that was all looks.

                since i'm fairly new to the area, i'm still making the rounds in the indian department. i LOVED vatan, though the all-you-can-eat thing sort of did me in by way of my own greediness (i don't think people are supposed to eat 6 pieces of poori at one sitting, but it was so good!). went to mavalli palace last friday night and was crazy about the appetizers i had (those cashew nuts!) but underwhelmed by the uttapam (sp?). next time i'll try something else.

                is it just me, or are all the indian joints in this area vegetarian (not that i mind, just wondering)?


                1. re: felicia

                  Hi Felicia,

                  I loved Vatan as well, but it was the first time I'd ever eaten Gujarati cuisine, and I'm informed by the more knowledgeable eaters here that far superior and more authentic versions are available in New Jersey (do a search on Vatan to see this discussion).

                  As for the vegetarian (southern) Indian in the neighborhood, there does seem to be an awful lot of it -- but there are meat-oriented Bengali places as well, some of which have been recently discussed here. I've never had anything but bad Bengali in Curry Hill, however.

                  I prefer Madras Mahal (on Lex) to Mavalli Palace, but I've only been to Mavalli once. Give Madras Mahal a try... the uttapam is delicious. (Though I haven't been there in a few months...hopefully it's still great.)

                  Jim and I debated about Mavalli and Madras Mahal at the link below (these boards about Jim's book are way too difficult to find on the site -- they should be linked directly from the main front page along with all the other boards).

                  If you go to Madras Mahal, do let me know what you think! I owe them a return visit.



                  1. re: Patrick A.

                    I'm unfamiliar with Mavalli, but I suggest you try Madras Cafe, 2nd Av. between 4th and 5th, and compare it with Madras Mahal. I think Madras Cafe is superior to MM at the moment. Full disclosure: I am a regular (c. every 3 weeks) at MC, and don't eat at MM nearly as often.

                    1. re: Michael


                      I was unaware there were any southern Indian places down on Second. I don't spend much time in the East Village, but this sounds like it's worth a special trip. Thanks for the tip!


                      1. re: Patrick A.

                        You're welcome, Patrick. Madras Cafe is one of only 2 Indian restaurants I like in the East Village. The other one is the Punjab bargain-basement taxi stand on 1st St. between 1st and A - which I noted with pleasure Jim also likes. But what does he have against my girlfriend's beloved Bereket, which I also like?


                        1. re: Michael

                          I really like Lahore Deli, on Crosby St. just below Houston -- so narrow, it's easy to miss. I haven't tried Jim's place yet though.



                          1. re: Patrick A
                            Barry Strugatz

                            b.t.w. Lahore is open 24 hrs.

              2. re: felicia

                The one thing I Loved at Turkish Kitchen was the cherry juice they served. Anyone know where I can buy some? Thanks.


                1. re: Lil
                  oktay Altunergil

                  Some of the Turkish grocery stores may carry them.
                  There's also one wholesaler who delivers it. They also carry peach juice.

            2. re: Alan Divack

              Not only that, Alan, the waiter who is usually in back is very sweet and enthusiastic, and will take good care of you.

              1. re: Dave Feldman

                Tried Ali Baba tonight...sweet waiter, good-not-great food. But pretty good to know about in Midtown...hard to find this kind of thing in this part of town. Not being contentious, just want to warn people that this isn't a place to get excited about, just more of a "good to know about" spot.

                I thought the apps were the best stuff (nice hummous, egpplant, bread). They actually used bits of pizza crust in the chicken yogurtlu (sp?), which kinda freaked me out. A few too many other shortcuts all around, too.


                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Let me make it clear, 'cause I'm prone to exaggeration: this is a tasty neighborhood place, not a destination restaurant. Murray Hill is very short on quality food, and though I have a few favorites of my own, they are not meant to compete on a citywide basis. That doesn't mean they don't have charms of their own, particularly for locals.

                  That said, Jim, did you try the lammajun? It's their best dish... the other dishes are frills.


                  1. re: Patrick A.
                    Oktay Altunergil

                    First thing first.
                    The thing first; the stuff inside the yogurtlu kebab can not be pizza bits. It's called pide and you can find it in many kebab dished. It's actually the same thing as the pide (it's like 'pita' only better) that you will get on the side if you order any of the soups. By the way if they have 'Ezogelin' or 'Mercimek' (red lentil) soups you have to order that. My favorite there is the 'yogurtlu adana kebab' . I think everyone agrees on the 'lahmacun'. Do not order sish kebab or chicken kebab. Also worth mentioning is 'cacik' which is a yogurt side dish made with herbs and garlic.
                    Actually I order the following set when I go there:

                    Ezogelin/Mercimek Soup
                    Yogurtlu Adana Kebab (don't eat the rice; it sucks. and the stuff under the meat is not pizza bits it's 'pide')

                    Eat this, you'll thank me later.
                    Bon apetit.!