BEST MIDDLE EASTERN BREAD - 2004
Perfecting pita bread requires more than a good sense of geometry. This round flat bread with the pocket inside is the staple of many Middle Eastern cuisines, and it has many important jobs. Scooping up baba ghanoush, for one, or cradling spicy falafel balls smothered in tahini sauce. The Ailabouni family bakes its own pita, and their loving effort pays off with just the right balance of form and function. Pillowy soft yet tough enough to hold a hefty helping of gyros, this bread is also ample in diameter, and simply delicious, even without its familiar sidekicks. At just under $2 per half-dozen, this bread's a bargain, too. Abu Nader offers up an array of appetizer staples to savor with your pita, including a fiery little pepper and feta cheese pie, lemony humus, tangy tabuleh salad, and spicy stuffed grape leaves, not to mention soups, sandwiches, and a golden-hued baklava that sings a siren song to your sweet tooth.