We wished for more Middle Eastern fare in New York City at the end of 2013, and barely a week into the new year, we’re getting at least one new offering: Pergola (36 West 28th Street, 212-679-4842) makes its debut tomorrow in Flatiron, strutting out with a menu of shawarma, kofta, and hummus — plus a list of hookah offerings.
The kitchen is under the command of Nester Moina, a native of Ecuador who worked his way up through the industry after immigrating to the States in 1998. A significant portion of his training came via Mediterranean restaurants, and he’s incorporating many of the dishes he picked up at his new eatery. “I took little samples from all kinds of restaurants where I worked,” he says. “The shawarma is from Morocco, the kofta is ground beef with Middle Eastern seasoning. I learned that from another chef. I tried to make the dishes a little more interesting.” Moina also enlisted the help of a sous chef from Egypt, who’s adding flavors to the menu, too. The chef says the salmon and shawarma are stand-outs; we liked the tabbouleh and lentil soup.
The cavernous bi-level space is lined with plush banquettes and anchored by an attention-commanding bar, which turns out a list of cocktails like the peras fizz (tequila, chai syrup, lemon, pear brandy) and the two shot (rye, honey liqueur, fig, lemon, eggwhite) plus beers and wine. Tables throughout the space sigh under the weight of a hookah; Pergola offers over a dozen flavors.
Nab a table upstairs, and you’ll be able to look down to the bottom floor, taking in the greenery that covers the walls, an homage to the building’s former life as a flower shop.
When Pergola opens tomorrow, it will serve dinner; lunch will come on line sometime soon.
Page through for a few photos of dishes.