Friday, January 20, 2012
It's not uncommon at Greek or Near Eastern restaurants to see some variant of pizza on the menu, usually involving pita bread. Despite - in fact, because of - my love for pizza, I typically don't order those. If I want pizza, I'll go to a pizzeria. If I'm at a Greek restaurant, then I generally want more traditional fare like souvlaki or a gyro. (Now for all I know, the Greeks may have been eating pizza-like flatbreads for thousands of years, but I'm talking about traditional American-style Greek food, or what most Americans think of when they think of Greek food.)
But on a recent visit to Sinbad's on Park Avenue, I decided to break from my usual routine and try one of their "pitzas." There are eight on the menu, and several of them did sound tempting. Hot sauce or peppers are usually the clincher for me, though, so I went with the "Ganbari" pitza, which the menu described as topped with "our hot sauce as a base, with shrimp, spinach leaves, roasted pepper, artichoke hearts and parmesan cheese."
It was a good choice. Not terribly spicy (though I've built up quite a tolerance for spicy-hot foods over the years), but very tasty indeed. The mélange of flavors worked quite well, as the toppings complemented rather than clashed with each other. And while the toppings were laid on pretty generously, there wasn't so much going on here as to overwhelm my taste buds or to turn into a mismatched mishmash (try saying that three times fast). The savory, peppery shrimp played off the tart artichoke hearts (kudos for the absence of hard, unchewable artichoke leaves) and the sharp grated Parmesan, with the roasted red pepper slices and wilted spinach leaves adding some welcome, subtle background flavor.
And I must say that I liked the crust as well. I was afraid that it might either be brittle and crackerlike, or simply like an ordinary pita, soft and chewy. This was crisp but not brittle, and a bit bready as well. Judged purely as a pizza crust, I might not give it exceptionally high marks, but for what this was - a flatbread-like hybrid between a pita and a pizza crust - it was pretty good.
The fact remains, this wasn't a traditional pizza, so I'm not going to give it a rating. If you really want pizza, I don't think you'd go to Sinbad's to get it. But it was pretty good. And you may want to check out some of the other "pitzas," like the "Sultan's," with tahini, charbroiled beef and lamb, onions, pepper rings, tomatoes, feta and parsley, or the "Ali Baba," with garlic sauce, tomatoes, charbroiled eggplant, feta, olives and parsley. And there are plenty of other dishes to choose from - I've been going to Sinbad's for years, as I've always enjoyed their various Mediterranean dishes.
Sinbad's, 719 Park Ave, Rochester NY 14607
Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily