October 3, 2009

ali baba

Alternate title: SEARCH OVER.


I’m so glad I took on this quest for the ultimate chicken pita wrap. I’ve been eating some good food, seeing some interesting places (and taking some inadvertent tours), and meeting some really kind people. My latest excursion took me to a place I’d visited before--Ali Baba, eatery of the angry, hirsute man.

I didn’t dare take my camera with me this time, but it wouldn’t have mattered--the owner wasn’t there this time. The place hasn’t changed at all since my first visit, and I was especially elated to see the wood-fired oven (more on that later). I promptly placed my order for the chicken durum wrap, sauce on the side ($6.45 + tax). I also failed to resist the small appetizer plate, which included portions of five appetizers of your choice ($9.95 + tax). Variety may be the spice of life, but I think my life is sufficiently seasoned--I got two parts hummus, two parts ezme (super spicy tomato dip), and one part barbunya (giant white beans drenched* in olive oil and spices).

*Yeah, “drenched” may be an understatement. I went ahead and poured most of that grease off.

Far and away, the highlight of my day was watching the bread-making process. It began with the Breadmaster (as I’ve taken it upon myself to dub him) hacking off a bit of premade dough and rolling it into the perfect size and thickness for optimum puffing. To give you an idea of its elasticity, I witnessed him pick up the rolled dough and a whip it like you whip a wet shirt to get the wrinkles out. (Amusingly, he did this in the face of the kid hanging around the kitchen, flicking flour all over him.) He must roll out hundreds of those things each day, and he certainly has it down to an art.


Massive, providing many a moment of savory chew-phoria.

After rolling and flicking the dough, he sprinkled on some nigella seeds, placed it on a wooden paddle and slid it into the 460F wood-fired oven. This is the point at which I became mesmerized, spellbound, and completely captivated. The puffing is simply extraordinary--the totally flat disc becomes this perfect round ball of soft, pliable bread. I could be entertained for hours by this process, as long as I was fed a steady supply of said bread.

I’ll be honest--part of the reason I got the appetizer plate was so I could get another piece of lavash. You can imagine my disappointment when I realized it came with a smaller, thicker piece instead. Regardless of that downer, I still enjoyed what I was given.


The thicker bread was actually better for scooping up the hummus (a little bland) and ezme (it set my mouth on fire, so I loved it). The beans were scrumptious—slightly sweet and cooked to the point where they actually melted in my mouth, no chewing required.

Now, the point of my visit--the wrap. Apparently, the man misunderstood my request for sauce on the side, giving me extra sauce while still slathering the innards with it. So much for consistency within my reviews, but it was so darned delicious, I didn’t care. Perfectly creamy and dilled, with just enough garlic to let me know it was there. Although the glorious, matchless bread burst at some point in the making, I managed to devour the entire wrap with no problems. The chicken was moist and only very lightly seasoned, but that just gave me an excuse to use more sauce.


This is one terrific restaurant and I won’t be waiting another year to visit again. In fact, I expect to order exactly the same thing (with an extra piece of lavash on the side).

Ali Baba
2243 15th St.
Troy, NY 12180

45 comments:

Barbara said...

So you finally found your perfect pita wrap! Gotta give you high marks for perseverance, Grace. And it paid off. I would love to have seen the lavosh-making; the photo of your appetizer is a tad off-putting with all that grease but the one with the hummus is mouth watering. (fun photo with the fork too!)

Pam said...

Puffy bread is indeed mesmerizing.

Gloria said...

Lovely restaurat. I love Pita bread too! (love the pics with the fork too!) xx gloria

kat said...

Its good to find the perfect place

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I am so hungry now that I could eat my screen! That wrap is irresistible...

Cheers,

Rosa

Dawn said...

troy eh? I go to my parents' house in the berkshires in the summer. I would love to come see you and we can just eat ourselves silly! LOL
Yeah, now I'm hungry too, thanks Grace.

Mimi said...

The wrap look so delicious. I think I should go on a west coast chicken pita wrap quest.
Mimi

Ingrid said...

Great now I'm hungry and it isn't even lunch time yet.

That bread does sound divine!
~ingrid

5 Star Foodie said...

Delicious! How great that you found the perfect pita wrap you were looking for! Excellent!

Cheri said...

Man! It is almost supper time and this is making me super hungry. I wish I could trade my stir-fry for this supper because after reading this post it is exactly what I am craving!

Paula said...

Chew-phoria is right! Whoa ... it's all looks divine. That sauce sounds like it really pushed the envelope to a whole new level of yumminess. I need to go on a culinary quest.

lisa said...

This sounds like a really good one! The bread for the wrap looks fantastic.

Sharon said...

Uh, I guess Ali Baba can't deliver to my house! :( Looks so amazing.

Penny said...

Glad you persevered in your quest. Now if you could just make this at home it would be a bonus.

Cheryl said...

Wow, wish I lived in NY! That looks delish! totaly! absolutely!

Pam said...

I am starving after reading this post. I wish Ali Baba was in Portland.

Lisa-Marie said...

I am so, so sad I live a whole ocean away from that!

Jeanne said...

"eatery of the angry, hirsute man" - you crack me up!!

Emily said...

My goodness! You've convinced me. I'd love to try this place.

What a wrap! The bread looks incredible.

Lindsey@pickyeatings said...

Variety may be the spice of life, but nothing beats an old standby.

foodhoe said...

that looks amazing! I've learned so much by reading your search for the mediteranean wrap, which is a food item that I am just not that familiar with. This inspires me to find the good stuff over here, because so far, it doesn't look like this!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Haha you are so funny Grace. The pursuit of the holy chicken pita, a search I can fully support! :)

Chef Fresco said...

That looks soo yummy! I am glad you found the ultimate chicken pita :)

Stacey said...

Ali Baba's Rocks! Have heard good things about Troy, but I have frequented their Lake George location several times over the summer - delightful, hedonistic, and very colorful.

Jessica Lee Binder said...

The lavash looks pretty amazing. I wish I could see the guy make it. BTW, there are some Ali Baba's in NYC that are good too. (I don't think they are related.)

muffinsareuglycupcakes said...

i think i've seen ali baba here in singapore too!
havent tried it before though.

Eve said...

Oh I'm a bit sad the journey is over, although of course happy for you for finally finding the perfect wrap. But I so was enjoying these reviews!

shaz said...

yay! Success at last. What shall thy next quest be Fair Maiden?

Sophie said...

I wish I could have this for lunch right now! I'm usually a sauce on the side girl too, but it sounds like this was quite the meal. Moist chicken too... sounds scrumptious :D.

Lori said...

Yeah! What an experience and I am so glad you enjoyed your noshings!

Rebeca @All Vegged Out said...

I don't even really eat meat and all I want to do is take a bite of my screen :)

Nicisme said...

I wouldn't be able to resist the appetizers either and the puffy bread looks divine!

Baking Monster said...

Yum everthing looks delish!

Kerstin said...

Sounds like a great place, I wouldn't have minded all the extra sauce either!

Helene said...

Oh my goodness, sounds so good.

Velva said...

Love the photos! I am a big fan of lavosh. In my younger years, I had the oppportunity to eat often with an Iranian family. The food was just fabulous. I have such fond memories.
Great review! You definitely should not wait another year before you enjoy this restaurant.

Sophie said...

What a lovely restaurant!! I so love your pictures!!

Susie said...

Considering it's almost midnight (insomnia coupled with a public holiday tomorrow) and my tummy was already a bit rumbly I really shouldn't have visited your site, it makes me hungry without fail! And it has given me cravings for a chicken wrap/kebab, tomorrow, I'll have to be patient and wait til tomorrow. Once again thanks for sharing Grace :).

pigpigscorner said...

The bread looks really good! looks so tasty....yum

Teanna said...

YES!!! Congrats on finding an amazing chicken wrap! It looks delicious!

MaryBeth said...

This chicken wrap looks so good I could almost lick the screen....Ok so maybe I did.

Albany Jane said...

I've got to get back there to get another wrap. I forgot how good and creamy they were. And you are spot on about that bread. Just chewy enough, and thin enough.

emily said...

Heaven help me. This looks SO PHENOMENAL. I can't wait to try this myself.

Kate at Serendipity said...

Oh, wow.

Do you think they'd Fed-Ex some of this to Belgium?

nora@ffr said...

vat a delicious looking wrap!! perfect for breakfast!!
cheers!!