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New Arlington Chow Find: Pasha Turkish Cuisine

Chow find! Pasha Turkish Cuisine is a terrific addition to Arlington, and to the general collection of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restos in the area. They opened last Tuesday, and thanks to early raves on the Arlington town email listserv, they've been packed. It's a cute little joint, they've used the previous Tsunami space well.

I don't have proper names for dishes because their website isn't up and running yet, but here are a few of the highlights:
- awesome housemade bread that comes with small dishes of olive oil, a garlic-packed relish of sorts, and a yogurt/sour cream/walnut/garlic dip.
- zucchini fritters with a garlic yogurt sauce
- grilled lamb kabobs on a green salad (the lamb was amazingly delicious -- something to add to the lambstravaganza thread!)
- anchovies in a cast iron casserole pan with mixed vegetables in a flavorful and spicy tomato-y sauce (this is different from the other anchovy dish, which is rolled in phyllo)

I regret our small party and limited appetites kept us from trying more items, but the folks next to us were there for the 2nd night in a row, and they were doing a good job of making their way through various dishes. We hope to copy them soon.

Pasha didn't have a soft opening, so they're still working through some issues. They ran out of some dishes and specialty beverages much faster than anticipated, and await their next deliveries on Monday. The staff is friendly, but a little overwhelmed right now. Considering they've only been open 6 days and have been slammed, I'd give them multiple thumbs up for handling it with grace and a smile.

669A Mass. Avenue
Arlington, MA 02476
(781) 648-5888.

This will be their website (so they tell me), but right now it's not working:

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  1. Thanks for the heads up, can't wait to try it!

    1. The walnut dip was probably "tarator".

      1 Reply
      1. re: Taralli

        Probably so. They didn't have paper menus to take away, but they are going to be doing delivery. I wish they'd get their website up.

      2. Thanks for the pointer. A friend and I went to Pasha for lunch today. We were very happy with our meal. My friend declared the food "better than Sofra and at a much more reasonable price." I have never tried Sofra so cannot compare. My take is that the food was delicious, presented nicely, and the service was very prompt and welcoming. Between the two of us we spent about $25 including tip on lunch, which consisted of a tabulli appetizer (which we split), an appetizer-sized serving of mulcer for me and a sandwich with lamb (don't remember the exact name) for my friend. The meal was served with some very nice foccacia-like bread and dips (olive oil, a yogurt-like substance that also reminded me of sour cream, and a spicy item that was otherwise similar to the tabulli). My dish consisted of zucchini pancakes with more of the yogurt-like item on top, plus a small undressed shredded lettuce salad on the side. Everything was very fresh. I enjoyed the variety of textures and bright flavors. I definitely will be returning to try dinner!

        Finally, I will add that they appear to have made some progress since Litchick's visit. There are menus that you can take. They are in a holder just outside the restaurant's door. My friend and I noticed, however, that they do not list everything. For example, her sandwich was nowhere to be found. So when the website comes up, it will probably be more authoritative.

        1. Thanks to litchick's report, two friends and I ate dinner at Pasha Wednesday night and were very impressed. Brookline Family Restaurant is a favorite of ours but not very convenient so we were pretty excited to hear there was a Turkish restaurant in our very own town. Our verdict: Pasha is even better than BFR, with brighter flavors, more sophisticaed presentation, and very warm, welcoming and solicitous service. The only way in which it falls short of BFR is in the value proposition, as the prices are nearly identical but the servings smaller. Not that it's overpriced: 4 apps, 2 mains, 2 glasses of wine, 2 beers came to $80, which really isn't bad at all. And it being early days I am guessing that they are still playing with price and portion size, most places do for awhile.

          The details: bread basket with excellent bread and three small dishes of dips: seasoned olive oil, chopped spicy vegetables and hummus. Mucver (fried zucchini fritters) were nicely crispy, very fresh-tasting and complimented by a drizzle of yogurt sauce and a crispy salad. Kizartma (sauteed baby eggplant with garlic yogurt and tomato sauce) was gorgeous, stacked vertically, bursting with flavor, the eggplant nicely complemented by planks of very sweet roasted carrots. We order this every time at BFR and will continue to do so, but this version was on a whole different level. Dolmas were competent but not out of the ordinary. Haydari (homemade yogurt, sour cream, garlic and walnuts) didn't sound like much but it was a flavor explosion and we fought over it. I don't even think I like walnuts but I loved them in this. Adana kebab (spiced ground beef and lamb) was delicious, beautifully charred and extremely juicy, served with very nice rice pilaf (although the menu said bulgur) and salad. Karniyarik (whole small eggplant stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices) was also divine, the caramelized, crunchy eggplant skin contrasting with the richly-flavored meaty interior. This also came with rice pilaf and salad and the rice made a great vehicle for the savory dish.

          They seem to be doing a land office business but handling it gracefully with a staff of three in the front of the house and sufficient staff in back for food to come out (for us anyway) at the perfect pace and correct temperature. They are still running out of things (one friend had the last Turkish beer and then had to switch to something else, they were out of the red bean app we wanted) but it is nice to see their early success and as litchick said, they are extremely nice people.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GretchenS

            I had the skewered lamb sandwich for lunch yesterday and liked it so much I took my wife to dinner there that night. We both loved it. We ordered the Beytea (seasoned ground beef in phylo with yogurt and tomato sauce) and the curried sauteed vegetables (Kori sosiu sebze sote). It was like having a circus in your mouth. Just wonderful flavors. I wouldn't call it cheap and portions are pretty good but the quality of flavor and range of the menu are outstanding. I hope they're here for a long time. Arlington needed something other than another Indian or Japanese place (or bank).

            Very pleasant space and friendly staff. We we the only people there at 5:30 and it was filling up very fast at 6. Thanks to the OP for the news...this is a wonderful place.

          2. Piling on with the praise. For lunch today: the bread basket with oil, hummus and a minced-vegetable dip; the sauteed eggplant with garlic sauce; and the skewered lamb plate (lamb tasted distinctly of lamb, which I like) w/pilaf and salad. (Actually I ordered the sandwich but was relieved when I saw the plate arrive--much easier to deal with leftovers, and I had overordered.) Very delicious and quite reasonable. They don't have a lunch menu per se but there is a short list of sandwiches and of course many appetizers. They're out of paper menus again but I think mains are in the $13-17 range, sandwiches $8-10.

            Not crowded, service was fine. The room is pretty and quite clean ;-). One drawback: seating is a choice between wooden banquettes with cushions, and low-backed wooden chairs. Those chairs are attractive but seriously uncomfortable, to me anyway.

            1. Sounds exciting... Are there enough options for vegetarian diners?

              3 Replies
              1. re: catchow

                It's a pretty vegetable-focused cuisine. All 11 of the cold apps are vegetarian, half the hot apps are vegetarian, there are 4 salads, 2 of the 4 pastas are veggie and there is a small section of vegetarian mains (4 in all). I think you'd be fine, especially because I could see being very happy staying with apps for the whole meal.

                  1. re: catchow

                    One caveat - good for vegetarians, not so much for vegans. I had a hard time ordering last night - everything seems to have either yogurt dressing or butter. The hummus and baba ganoush were outstanding, and I loved the dolmas. (There may have been some butter in there....) Agree, great addition to Arlington. It was crowded when we got there at 6:30 but there were seats at the bar so we (hubby, 8 year old and I) sat there. Daughter got a ravioli stuffed with lamb with two sauces - tomato and yogurt. She ate almost every bit of the large portion. Husband had bistya which he said was excellent. I had Pasha vegetarian dumplings - potato and carrot. They came with a yogurt sauce. I spaced out when reading the menu and didn't notice the yogurt, so ate them anyway. Filling (the portion was HUGE) but not particularly interesting. We got the mixed appetizer platter - dolmas, hummus, baba ganoush, taboulleh, the yogurt/walnut dip and some other veggie dip. Absolutely awesome. Easily the best hummus I've ever tasted.

              2. What a great add to Arlington. The bread and hummus was so tasty. We had the fried cheese phyllo appetizer and shepard's salad and then I had the stuffed eggplant, and my hubby had the lamb kebob, and shared the milk pudding dessert and all of it was wonderful.

                I would have to agree that the food seems better than Brookline Family and it's closer for us too. We'll have to work our way through their menu. Everyone around us seemed to really enjoy their food as well!

                Thank you litchick for letting us know!

                1. Tried to go last night, but there was an hour wait and a crowd outside the door. Reservations are highly recommended - they had a handful of open tables with "reserved" signs. We didn't wait because we had our 8 year old with us, but will be back soon!

                  1. A terrific meal last night of vegetarian starters. As reported, the mucver and haydari are both superlative; the imam baldi was nicely spiced (honey and a touch of Aleppo pepper) and not too oily; the borek was tangy but a bit dry; the shepherd salad was a disappointment -- too many green peppers and a dressing that lacked punch. Given the eminently reasonable prices, I was impressed with the quality of the ingredients, especially the greens that surrounded all of the dishes.

                    The place was filled with what appeared to be Arlington locals, and the service was fine -- they seemed surprised that we wanted all the dishes at once, but didn't suggest any kind of alternative; with five meze-like plates, we weren't sure what the logical progression was supposed to be.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: dsmoxie

                      Excited to hear about this. I have given up on Sofra, although part of it is the lack of parking. Love Turkish food. Is this in Arlington Center -- could someone describe where it is exactly? Thanks.

                      1. re: Lucymax

                        Yes, the west part of the Center, opposite the library. You can park in the parking lot behind the bank.

                        1. re: Lucymax

                          Can't wait to try Pasha. re: Sofra, I tried it for the first time last week and really liked it. I went a little after 5 pm and there was plenty of parking and it was not crowded. I realize not everyone can go at this time but its not always a nuthouse.

                      2. My wife and I went tonight for our anniversary and had a great time. The bread and dips were fantastic, which was a good thing because they forgot to bring us our appetizer. The Turkish meatballs were great (ground beef and lamb, served with a little salad and some rice pilaf). My wife got a dish that I can't remember how to spell, but it was ground meat wrapped in phyllo dough in a red sauce (not a tomato sauce, I think it was yogurt and paprika and stuff) with little sides of potato salad and baba ganoush. Everything was really fresh and flavorful, and the ambiance is great. We showed up at 6:30 on a Tuesday night and it was pretty quiet, but it filled up by the time we left.

                        Service was a little rough around the edges, but they were so nice that it was hard to get too upset about it. The only other issue I had was that the tables for two are unusually wide to the point where it was challenging to share food because we couldn't reach each other's plates easily. But for some people, that might be a bonus.

                        1. We 'firsted' here last thurs. Per our usual, we tried lots of things. The zucchini pancakes and Manti were, hands down , the most tasty of all we had. The manti are cigar shaped ravioli w/ a thin skin filled with bf.,lamb, sitting in a pool of very simple tomato sauce and topped w/ minted yoghurt sauce. Just lovely and piquant. The zucchini fritters were so amazing- fresh, crunchy, light, full zucchini flavor, w/ same yogh sauce.i have tried zucchini fritters in many restnts but these were The Perfect Ones.Next best was the curried vegetables which they allowed us to order as a 1/2 portion side. Light curry flavor but luscious; helpful relief from the sameness of some of the dishes. The lamb kebab was o.k. but the lamb was just not as wonderful as many I have had. It was dry rubbed? w/ a reddish tomato flavored mixture; my Love liked it o.k. but i would not order it again.
                          The yoghurt spread w/ walnuts was good but not worth ordering in addition to the yoghurt that comes on all the plates. The bread was eggy/ thick; just not my preference with this food. All the entrees came with babaganoosh and bulgur salad and rice and yoghurt mixture on the plates' four corners.The yoghurt works well as a dressing for the sndressed shredded lettuce salad that accompanies some entrees. The floor's 2 servers were welcoming, friendly, smiley, very pretty, and proud of their cuisine. Also a bit overwhelmed w/ the full floor. What a lovely addition to Arlington. The food was stratospheres above The Family Restnt in Brkline Village.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              i forgot to mention that we had a very subpar meat-stuffed eggplant; meat was overcooked; eggplant small and not luscious -creamy. the chef must have spaced it while pounding out all the other orders.

                            2. Do they serve Donner Kebab sandwiches? Fries?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: robertlf

                                There is a doner kebab entree on the paper menu I have, but no listing of any sandwiches or fries. That said, this menu is from their first week and may well have evolved.

                              2. I remember stopping by Pasha and asking about lunch shortly after they opened and was told that they might have some sandwiches later so it fell off my radar. Having walked by the place twice in two days now I decided to give it a try for lunch today.
                                I had the Skewered Lamb Wrap and it was served with an excellent small chopped salad and French Fries. The lamb was excellent, tender with a good char on the outside and the wrap contained plenty of lamb. Served with Pashas special dressing that was really good, reminded me somewhat about a Thousand Island dressing. The only drawback was the French Fries, perfectly cooked but it was supermarket FF refried. I would have loved to see some freshly cut homemade fries instead. I did make a note about this on the check that has space for comments (Another excellent idea).


                                1. Went back to this delightful place today for some more Turkish Delights. Tried the Adana Kebab Wrap, Ground Lamb and Beef, small salad and unfortunately frozen supermarket FF. The lamb/beef mixture was seasoned well with a nice char to it. Just a delightful meal. I'm continuing complaining in writing on the slip about the FF.
                                  A sunny window table, good food and a pleasant and pretty waitress, what more can you ask for?