Two things had unfairly kept us from trying Whaddapita! until now.
First, the design of the restaurant’s interior. Covered in neon green and orange paint, in big blocks of color, it’s loud. Beyond loud. It’s like what a Mediterranean fast-food restaurant would look like if it were designed by the McDonald’s corporation. Actually, it’s worse than that: It’s what a Mediterranean fast food restaurant would look like if you took a design done by a disgruntled ex-employee of McDonald’s, who was fired for both being too flamboyant as well as colorblind, and imported that design into the hypersaturated world of “The Simpsons,” and THEN ate a handful of hallucinogenic mushrooms and started playing with the color settings on your television while listening to old Vitamin-C maxi-singles.
Second, we couldn’t understand how a restaurant that was specializing in Greek and Mediterranean snacks and street food, had no lamb anywhere on its menu. “Jillian,” I would say, “You can’t make a gyro without lamb. Using chicken in a gyro is ridiculous. I don’t want any baklava. I want some lamb, carved from a vertical spit, and folded into warm, tzatziki-drenched pita. This is absurd. Their inattention to this basic detail must mean that none of the rest of the food they are making can possibly be any good.” Jillian would always roll her eyes, sigh, and answer, “Malcolm, this conversation never happened,” before cooking me a unicorn cheesesteak while whistling the Overworld Theme from “The Legend of Zelda.”
Recently, however, Whaddapita started offering delivery service, which allowed us to avoid the eyeball-scraping experience of visiting the dining room. It allowed us to focus entirely on what we were eating, and if there wasn’t going to be any lamb, we were just going to have to learn to cope with that. We tried the “Combo Platter” with three items ($14.99), which included Pork Souvlaki, Chicken Gyro, and Beeftaki, served with french fries, tomato slices, red onion slices, a small container of tzatziki, and a package of warm pita.
We ate each of the three different types of meat the same way: folded into the grilled pita bread, topped with tomatoes and onions, and drizzled with the cucumber/yogurt tzatziki. The bread was wonderfully soft and pillowy, with a nice chew and some light brown grill marks on the outside. It’s a worthy base for the other chopped, saucy ingredients. The tzatziki was smooth, and provided a cooling contrast to the spicy meat and french fries. The fries were a delicious addition to the mini-wraps we made, standing at our kitchen counter, with very crispy edges, and soft, warm potato inside, covered in a ton of salt and fresh pepper.
The shredded Chicken Gyro, marinated in spices, stayed moist and flavorful, even after suffering the indignity of being in a Styrofoam package for 20 minutes. The Pork Souvlaki, two skewers of pork rubbed with rosemary and thyme, had some very satisfying black grill marks, with a crisp outside and tender inside, that left my lips pleasantly greasy. My favorite, though, was the Beeftaki: ground beef seasoned heavily with garlic and red onion and strong parsley notes. It’s enough to make you not miss lamb; shaped onto skewers and grilled over a very hot flame, if you add a squeeze of lemon, it’s one of the freshest, zippiest versions of familiar Greek flavors that I can remember.
And that’s when the clouds parted, and I felt like I finally understood what Whaddapita was doing, with all of that fast-food styling, that green paint, and the army of cheery yellow tee shirt-clad employees. These are the same flavors that I have always associated with Greek food, the garlic, the parsley, the thyme, the rosemary, the feta, the olives, the yogurt, and the cucumber. Unlike some classic Greek dishes, however, Whaddapita manages to brighten all of these flavors up, and make them incredibly accessible.
After eating a meal at Whaddapita, you don’t feel bogged down and heavy; their small sandwiches, stuffed with reasonably small quantities of meat, echo the street snacks of Greece. The entire experience, from the electric paint job, to the effervescent service, is upbeat, and lightweight. Whaddapita doesn’t want to confuse your tongue with gamey, carved baby sheep, that makes you sad if you think about it too long. They want to keep things light, peppy, and covered in tzatziki. It’s small portions of inexpensive food with, unlike my previous assumptions, a ton of attention to detail. It’s a happy place. Don’t believe me? Have a banana smoothie. Whaddapita serves those, too.