We found Pita Deli in the Five Points Mall, a shopping centre in decline that’s best known for being home to a long-standing Chinese buffet restaurant, a sporting goods store, and the carcass of Target Canada’s failed expansion.
While the surroundings were uninspiring, we had been tipped off that Pita Deli was one of Oshawa’s hidden gems, known for big portions at bargain prices. And because we love a bargain, we headed over to see what all the fuss was about!
We arrived to a small line-up waiting to order, and nearly all the tables and chairs in the dining area were taken, which is always a good start. The decor was nondescript: the tables and chairs were standard issue food court, CP24 played on the flatscreen TV on the wall, a small table by the cash displayed cards and brochures from local businesses.
The menu is small and features popular take-out dishes like chicken and beef shawarma, falafel, hummus, Greek Salad, tabbouleh, and fattoush. But, as we waited to place our order, we noticed the massive fattoush salad was clearly one of the most popular dishes on the menu, and was also the filling bulking out the pitas and shwarmas. And for $5.75 for the large, the portion is huge. One fattoush for us, then!
If you’ve never heard of fattoush, it’s a Middle Eastern bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread, mixed with chopped mixed greens (iceburg lettuce, in this case), and vegetables. It’s then seasoned with sumac which adds a mildly sour taste, and, at Pita Deli, includes a generous portion of white chicken meat, then finished with drizzle of tahini. Customers can add additional vegetables like cucumbers or parsley, and we opted for a dollop of creamy garlic sauce on the side.
But what about the famous pitas? We spied a huge plate of what looked like home made falafel balls behind the deli counter, and decided to try Pita Deli’s version.
Falafel, which is basically a deep fried ball of ground chickpeas, can be dry as heck if cooked too long, but these ones looked like they had spent just enough time in the fryer without coming out overdone. The falafel balls and a huge portion of fattoush salad were added to the pita, and the dish was finished with creamy tahini. We passed on the hot sauces, but we were in the minority, as most of the customers in line for pitasopted to add some heat.
Now, we’re going to take a minute before moving to the taste to make a point about the exemplary service we (and everyone else in the deli) received. Extremely polite, welcoming without being patronizing, and helpful. But service doesn’t mean much if the food doesn’t taste good, which is why Pita Deli packs a double whammy: The pita and salad were good. Really good. The crispy bits of pita in the fattoush salad added texture, the chicken was moist, the lettuce and tomatoes were fresh, and the creamy garlic sauce was strong, but added a nice hit of flavour.
The falafel was the size of a football, and stuffed nearly to bursting. The falafel balls were moist and flavourful, the fattoush salad added freshness and the crispy pita bits added crunch. For just $7.07, this falafel was a bargain. And check out the photos – this bad boy measured nearly nine inches long and 3 1/2 inches high.
Would we go back? In a heartbeat. Just one tip: go hungry.
Total cost of the meal was $14. Pita Deli is located in the Five Points Mall at 285 Taunton Road East.