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Jerusalem Pita: Where Eggplant Steals the Show

A humble eggplant appetizer is the star at this Coolidge Corner restaurant.

As a rule, I’m not given to superlatives—with the written word, it’s too easy to fall into a hole I can’t climb out of.  But folks, the truth is that I’ve found the best eggplant dish in Brookline.

It’s at Jerusalem Pita, just off of Coolidge Corner, selected at random from a menu endearingly full of spelling errors.  The Eggplant Rolls are somewhat doleful-looking bits of cold eggplant, perhaps inviting a bit of ‘order remorse’ when you see them on the plate, weeping olive oil and spooned over with a green relish of raw garlic, parsley, dill (the dill most of all, that marvelous, underappreciated herb).  But take one bite of this little appetizer and you’ll rhapsodize for hours about these long-marinated, ultra-tender morsels, about their perfect blend of garlic and seasonings, about the keen, zesty taste of the dill and parsley.

Not all of the food was quite that spectacular—some dishes were a little shy, afraid to make waves, afraid to express themselves with a bolder palate.  I craved more lemon in the hummus, as well as some flavor other than cucumber in the fresh, crunchy Israeli salad.  The falafel was dry, and while the chicken in the schnitzel pita sandwich was truly excellent, the sandwich was tame, light on those pickles that I so love in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Schawarma is fast food, street food, meant to be eaten with the hands and a warm circle of pita or lavash.  What’s vital to good schawarma—in addition to flavor, of course, which here is a spice blend strong on nutmeg and allspice—is texture.  The meat should be moist and tender inside, but with a savory outer crust, similar to the smaller, slightly blackened end of the roast that’s such a delight to chew on.  French fries are a conventional side in Israel; that’s all the better to soak up the juice with, but here, with this slightly dry turkey schawarma, I loved a side of wonderfully seasoned grilled vegetables.

Ground beef and lamb pressed into sausage-like links, striped black with a grill pattern and flecked green with parsley, are served here as Jerusalem Kebabs.  They’re a good choice—intensely meaty and juicy, well flavored with onion and spices.

Appetizers like Sambusak, a deep-fried pocket of dough stuffed with a hummus-like mixture, and Moroccan Cigars rolled with beef inside, are your fairly standard, fried business.

The restaurant is entirely Glatt Kosher, which perhaps partly accounts for the prices ($18 for chicken kebabs?), and spotty service might have you flagging down a waitron who rarely comes your way.  But that eggplant—oh my.  Is there another restaurant in Brookline that can best this eggplant dish?

 

Jerusalem Pita is open Sunday through Thursday, 10am-10pm, Friday 10am-3pm, and Saturdays in the fall and winter only, closing 2 hours before Shabbat.  Call 617-739-2400 for more specific hours.  10 Pleasant Street, Brookline.  MBTA: Green Line (C) to Coolidge Corner.

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