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Anatolia in Waterbury CT, My review.

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first, the information.

Anatolia Restaurant
586 Plank Rd, Waterbury CT
(203) 591-8450

the back of Anatolia can be seen from Rt. 84, big sign that says "turkish cuisine" or something of that nature. so i decided to stop in and try it. I'm always down for something new in the culinary wasteland of the Rt. 8 corridor.

by the looks of things, it wasn't good. the parking lot for this place was crumbling (not unlike the rest of Waterbury) and had a drop from the street i wasn't sure my lowered Eagle Talon would be able to make. There was a single car in the parking lot, and the building itself was quite discreet, clean, and overall very unassuming. Inside it was evident that this building used to be a "family diner".... there was booth seating all around (service for maybe 75 ppl or so) and on the right a couple of round tables. A bar area sat right in front of the fryers and ovens, a la 50's style diners. on the far right of the bar/open kitchen was a large hunk of lamb spit-roasting horizontally. it looked really good. Minimal effort was made to establish this as "not a hastily remodeled former family diner," a couple of mediterranean-esque pictures and blue color scheme in the walls and tableware. I only dropped by for lunch, so i picked up a black and white menu and told the owner (presumably) that I wanted whatever was good that day. he tried explaining what he was going to make to me but I insisted as long as it's fresh and delicious, i didn't care what I ate.

so he whipped up for me a dish that i can't find on this menu i took with me. It was white rice topped with thin slices of the lamb that was roasting away when i walked in. On the side I received a large lightly roasted plum tomato, a lightly roasted Italian hot pepper, and a side of onion salad, which consisted of shaved carrots, red onions, white onions, and some parsley. I also got a half of a loaf of turkish bread, which was more like a large roll than a traditional loaf. Presentation wise, it looked good. there was a good mix of colors, and the lamb smelled amazing. it was garnished with a parsley leaf or two. I paid $12.00 for it.

-The bread was very good, slightly chewy but still soft, with a nice firm crust. more on that later though.

- the meat was delicious. it was thin shaved and more or less almost fell apart in your mouth. It was not heavily spiced, which was great considering lamb has a wonderful flavor by itself and doesn't need it. Some of the lamb was a little overcooked and a bit chewy, but overall delicious.

-the roasted vegetables were perfectly done, and the pepper was spicy. no complaints.

-the Onion salad could have been done with vidalias or some other sweet onion to balance out the red onions. too many of them and it gets spicy!

The only thing i was confused about is why i was given a large chunk of bread. there was no sauce on the lamb, and nothing that could be sopped up by the bread. it was delcious by itself anyways so i guess i don't care. it just struck me as odd.

it made me a delicious lunch, but i don't know if i would like to eat there for dinner. maybe someone else can chime in.

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  1. It used to be a Friendly's, which explains the appearance. I'm looking forward to going. Thanks for the report.

    3 Replies
    1. re: coldduck

      you'll like it... it's not really a "take a date" kinda place (well i don't think so anyway)... but the food's good, reasonably priced, and you don't have to drive a 45min to get there.....one day when you want to eat real food but don't feel like getting up, getting dressed, driving, getting served, etc. give them a call and pick up an entree.

      1. re: ctdubbin

        great job. it's quite a great place...I blundered into it on opening day and have returned every chance I get. Soups a particular specialty (their tripe soup's the best I've had, and their tomato soup is revelatory). Skip all desserts but baklava.

        1. re: Jim Leff

          we were there for dinner last night...8 of us. everyone seemed pleased with their food except for those of us who ordered lamb chops. they were not cooked as ordered and were not flavored at all...very dry and bland. the mezes were limited but good except for the spinach stew , which was not very tasty. The desserts were enjoyed by all...the milk pudding was very good. But, the service was lacking...we ordered a couple of drinks that were never brought. The final straw came when we ordered turkish coffee and they were not prepared to make it the traditional way...boiling it with sugar. We decided as a group that we would rather travel a little further to West Haven to visit Saray, where everything was great! (Also, they could not easily accommodate our group of 8. They had one large reservation, which took their freestanding tables. the rest of the restaurant is booths for 4, so they put us in two booths side by side. we might have come a different night if we had known.)

    2. Hear it from a Turkish man... I know all the other Turkish restaurants in CT. Finally, I got a chance to go to Anatolia today. It was my wife's birthday and she wanted to go to a Turkish restaurant. I cannot testify for the dishes that we didn't try. But, Adana Kebap (long tender kebap made of ground beef and some spices on the grill, served on a bed of rice) and Karsas Kebap (similar to Adana Kebap, but instead of rice, it is in a light tomato sauce with peppers and garlic) was the best of all Turkish restaurants in CT. What made it delicious was the taste and smell of charcoal grill. I also recommend the shephard salad (diced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, green peppers with an olive oil & lemon based dressing).
      The place is cozy and casual. Staff was very friendly and genuine. I can see that service might be compromised if the place gets crowded. We went on a week day and it was no problem.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tyuksel

        How does Anatolia compare with the Turkish places on Campbell Ave, in West Haven?

        1. re: redfox697

          my husband is Turkish, and he much prefers Saray in New Haven to Anatolia. We've been so happy there that we haven't even tried the other place on Campbell Ave.

        2. re: tyuksel

          My son & I ate there today, and concur with the above poster- wonderful food, if an off-putting location. I have driven by this place numerous times always saying "we've gotta try that place", and I will definitely be a repeat customer. I had the Adana Kebap, which was somewhat (not overly) spiced lamb over rice pilaf with a side of cucumber and onion salad. The char-grilled long pepper was a nice addition. Flavors very balanced, fresh, and perfectly prepared. The bread was very good as well- slightly crisp on the outside and chewy inside- not unlike focaccia. Turkish coffee is usually sweetened as it boils- so it met my expectations- very good. My son only had the dessert (which I tried), milk pudding, which was very nice with the addition of cinnamon and a sprinkling of ground pistachio nuts. The entire (and very filling) meal came to only around $25.00, which is a terrific value, imo. I disagree that this isn't a good date restaurant. If you're with someone who appreciates delicious food, and is just a tad adventurous, then give it a try. The white tablecloths are a nice touch too, and the service was very friendly and helpful.