Mediterranean Kebab House, 190 Post Ave., Westbury, 516-333-8715, Cuisine: Turkish, Mediterranean. Think pide (savory Turkish filled pastry) instead of pizza at this hospitable Turkish restaurant serving succulent kebabs. $$ One spoonful of his fragrant lentil soup will tell you that Mustafa Alkan, chef-owner of Mediterranean Kebab House, is a skilled Turkish cook. A bite of baker Huseyin Kaymak's fluffy black-sesame-topped pita bread will make you doubly glad you came.
Inquire about the soup of the day. If it's the heady, robust lamb soup, you'll surely want to indulge. Of course, there's always Alkan's rich, full-bodied lentil potage. Or you could begin with the smooth and smoky eggplant salad, drizzled with a little oil and served with that addictive bread. Hummus, on the other hand, needs a garlic kick. But you'll enjoy the sprightly shepherd's salad, a toss of tomatoes, peppers, onions, parsley and black olives. Riper tomatoes would make this dish even better.

What sets Mediterranean Kebab House apart from so many of the Turkish restaurants on Long Island is the section of the menu labeled "Turkish oven food," the specialty of Kaymak, who learned his craft from his father, also a baker. Lahmajoun, with its paper-thin dough, encases a savory ground lamb and vegetable filling. The heartier pide (oval pie, the Turkish cousin of pizza) are, mostly, irresistible. A favorite is the vegetable version, crowned with melted cheese and chopped vegetables. Unless you crave salt, though, bypass the pastirami (Turkish pastrami) pie, whose topping of air-cured beef and cheese is overpoweringly salty. Sucutly pide, crowned with cheese and terrific Turkish sausage, takes the more familiar Italian pepperoni pizza up a few levels.

Kebabs excel. The well-marinated chicken kebab, sampled on two occasions, was grilled to juicy tenderness. Adana kebab, a highly seasoned chopped lamb mixture, is another standout. Both are included in the mixed grill combination, which also shows off the restaurant's fine lamb shish kebab. Another entree almost certain to gratify is bursa Iskender, lamb chunks over sauteed bread topped with butter, yogurt and tomato sauce.

For dessert, we ordered the rice pudding but were told it wasn't available that night. Instead, our waitress brought us a plate with kadayif and baklava. "On the house," she said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Both the phyllo-based pastries (made with nuts and honey syrup) and the gracious gesture were pleasing and sweet.

Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 11/8/02.