In 1542, Ottoman ruler Süleyman the Magnificent built the Damascus Gate, the most splendid entrance to Jerusalem's old city. An opening right above the gate was used to pour boiling oil on attackers. Luckily, you don't have to dodge boiling oil when you step inside Brooklyn's Damascus Gate, the newest addition to a burgeoning Middle Eastern restaurant scene along Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. The corner café makes a fetish of the gate, reproducing it on sweatshirts, business cards, and pennants. And while most Middle Eastern restaurants soft-pedal their national origins, offering a crowd-pleasing but predictable roster of pan-regional delicacies like falafel, shish kebab, and baba ghanoush, Damascus Gate enthusiastically features Syria's special cuisine. Eggplant-wise, in addition to a thick and creamy baba, there's mtabbal ($4.49), a tahini-free puree whomped with raw garlic, which would set your mouth on fire even without the red Aleppo pepper it contains. More unusual is makdous ($5.99), a very sour pickle of baby eggplants delicately... More >>>