Famous Pita had a long run on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn before closing in 2014. In Hewlett, the signage is a little confusing: "Off the Diet" appears in letters larger and bolder than "Famous Pita," but know that it’s in the shopping center located where southbound Broadway branches into West Broadway, sandwiched between Angel Nail & Spa and Tios Fine Jewelry.
More importantly, the pita here deserves to be famous — it is made in house, baked right in front of the customers, and evinces a flavor and crumb that you just don’t get from mass-produced pita. There’s the laffa: giant, puffy, blistered flatbread that is also made on the premises.
Unless you eschew meat, your choice of pita / laffa filling is a no-brainer: A stout column of chicken shawarma spins behind the counter and, when your name is called, the counterman will shave off a good helping and ask you which accompaniments you prefer. Hummus and tahini are givens, but you may also request matbucha (spicy tomato-pepper spread), babaganoush, fried eggplant slices, slices onions, fried onions, pickles, beets, pickled turnips, chopped Israeli salad, Moroccan carrot salad, cucumber salad, sauerkraut, coleslaw and much more. Choose any (or all) sauces among charif (hot sauce) amba (pickled mango), spicy mayo, garlic mayo, sweet chili, barbecue, sweet and sour or honey mustard.
There are people who don’t like shawarma. And there are people who had shawarma for lunch and want something else for dinner. Famous Pita also serves falafel, kofta, schnitzel, grilled chicken, grilled baby chicken, pastrami and more. Almost everything here can be served in a pita ($6.95 to $16.95), a laffa ($9.95 to $19.95) or on a platter with two sides ($14.95 to $25.95).
Hummus comes in various guises, from the simplest, served with tahini, to the "loaded" plate with chickpeas, mushrooms, onions, pine nuts, chicken, turkey and falafel. All orders come with pita and range from $6.95 to $18.95. On Thursday and Friday, you'll also find festive specials such as cholent, kishka and kugel.
Famous Pita’s dining room is mostly counter, but there is room for about 10 socially distanced people to sit. In nice weather, there are usually a few tables on the sidewalk as well.
Kosher supervision is by the Vaad Hakashrus of Five Towns & Far Rockaway. The restaurant is closed on Saturday and closes two hours before sundown on Friday.
Famous Pita / Off the Diet! Is at 1305A Broadway, Hewlett, 516-730-3355, famouspita.com.