Pros: Dizzying variety of dishes, all virtually flawless
Cons: Heat level of some may disturb certain visitors, and what to order?
Having learned just a little bit more about the Old Town Pasadena experience -- viz, stay off the main road -- I am thrilled to be once again proven right. "Pita Pita" was a second choice after we found the "All India Cafe" had closed for the night (Pita Pita hours: "11am until closing"), and a dead good one.
I was sucked in by the mysterious mention of a "Royal Vegetarian Feast, $29," on the door menu. Could we eat $29 worth of food in one go? Did we want a Royal Feast from these people? And just what was involved?
Pita Pita (somewhat unfortunately named, sounding as it does more like a little falafel wagon than the cozy restaurant it is) has hit on the bang-up idea of simply loading people down with every Middle Eastern standard and then some. We started with soup -- unassuming but tasty lentil -- and then our downfall began; from now on, we will drag along a third party.
The "old standards" -- baba ghanoush, tabouli, hommus, falafel, dolmades -- were all just ideal. I have found endless baba ghanoushes obviously made from inferior eggplants, powdery hommuses, tabouli spoiled by poor-quality olive oil... At Pita Pita, these were all things that would make the restaurant worth a visit alone, you know, just to satisfy an errant craving. These were all reasonably priced individually, but a startling good deal when combined under the auspices of the "Royal Feast."
Hot dishes (take heed: Pita Pita has a neon sign of a pepper with the word "HOT" above it) were another story. One -- an eggplant-and-onion deal -- was "like what happened when my mother actually used a cookbook." "Fresh and home-made" seems to be the standard here. I heaped this inside the pseudo-sandwiches I was busy making: the beauty of having such a ridiculously large assortment of food is that it's like having a salad bar of sorts at your table, so I sat there making seven-ingredient sandwiches with the pita bread. One was so scorchingly hot that the next-door "All India Cafe" was hastily forgotten: any need for curry was dismissed with a small bite of this particular potato-based firebrand. A third bean-based dish was nice and mild, meaning Pita Pita caters nicely to both hotheads and the less daring equitably.
On subsequent visits, we will probably try to arrive after a day-long pseudo-fast for a good feed, or grab a third party. Having tried so much of Pita Pita's standards in one go, I have nothing but confidence. The service and seating (nice wood, even on the patio) was without fault, too: our lemonade did not run dry, and there was none of the obnoxious, rushed "S'okay?" when your mouth is full of food and you can't respond. "Non-Los-Angeles" was the consensus for the relaxed wooden interior. "Relaxed" did not translate to slow or otherwise sloppy service, though.
A good-sized wine and beer list was also on offer; I don't know that I've ever even seen a place offer Moroccan and Lebanese beers.