Best of Three

Best of Three

If we have a Little Italy, it’s on Wooster Street. If we have a Little East, it’s on Chapel and Howe, from just before Park to half-past Edgewood—a three-block L home to five different kitchens frying up falafel sandwiches.

Yesterday evening, my empty stomach had room for three of them. First was the Falafel Hummus Wrap ($9) from Chap’s Grille, an underdog spot that was recently redecorated but still seems to have a hard time building a crowd. At first the sandwich appeared overly basic, finished with simple tomato and green leaf lettuce in a whole wheat wrap. Then I noticed the falafel itself had a nice herbal flavor, and I started finding finessed dashes of hot sauce, the heat and acid elevating the other components.

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Flights of Fancy - July 20, 2023

Next up was the Falafel Wrap ($8.99) from Ricotta, an Israeli pizzeria, bakery and deli. The sandwich was about as elaborate as that concept, with hummus, “Israeli salad” (red onion, tomato and cucumber), pickled vegetables, fried eggplant and tahini. In isolation, the falafel was pretty bland, but the sandwich overall was interesting and delicious—sweet, salty, savory and sour. The standout ingredient might’ve been the luxurious and creamy eggplant, with a hint of chew from the dark purple skin. You can get the wrap with or without a proprietary hot sauce, which I’m glad I ordered on the side due to its potency. And I have to give Ricotta extra credit for generous portions securely wrapped, making it easy to avoid a mess.

Finally came The Classic ($7.50) from a New Haven classic, Mamoun’s, with falafel, hummus, tahini, white onion, tomato, iceberg lettuce and diced parsley stuffed into a pita. The pita was unpleasant—brittle outside, mushy inside—and the chop on the veggies was so coarse that they kept falling out. They were also distributed unevenly, most notably the onion bomb over the top. But the falafel itself was salty, nutty and vegetal and probably my favorite of the day, as was the smoky hummus. Had the execution been (much) better in other areas, the sandwich could’ve been my favorite.

Instead, that honor goes to… doumbek roll please… the Falafel Wrap from Ricotta. Opened less than a year ago, Ricotta offered the best ingredients, flavors and implementation. It’s the sandwich I already want to eat again. And as soon as I have the stomach for another comparison, this time with other Little East contenders Kasbah Garden and Pistachio 2, I may be doing just that.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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