Q: Any idea what happened to the Fabulous Pita at the Promenade? They had some of the best shawarma I have ever had, and wonderful salad bar, too. There was a "closed today" sign put on the door. What a shame. I could have eaten there every day. Thanks, and I enjoy your article. P.S. Any other place in town to get shawarma?
— Jeff Camarigg, North Naples
Q: Went to my favorite new place in town today, Fabulous Pita, to discover it had closed down. What a disappointment! What happened? Will they be re-opening at a new location? Sammy will surely be missed.
— John Ardito, Naples
A: Fabulous Pita, a local restaurant which served shawarma, falafel, kebabs and other Middle Eastern cuisine, closed after operating only five months during the slowest time of the year in Naples.
The small, casual eatery opened in early June in a former Quiznos Sub shop off Naples Boulevard in North Naples, and closed around the end of October.
"The amount of overhead and work that went into running the restaurant didn't equal the reward," said Louise Shamir, who co-owned Fabulous Pita with her ex-husband and chef, Sam Shamir. "We didn't have enough advertising and customers to sustain us."
Although Fabulous Pita was her first restaurant venture — sparked by her fond memories of the legendary Famous Pita in Brooklyn, Shamir may be willing to eventually try again.
"Sam is going back to New York and I still own the Fabulous Pita name," she said. "I would need serious business partners with funds and vision to bring Fabulous Pita back."
Many locals who visited the eatery next to Moe's Southwest Grill in the Promenade at Naples Centre were impressed with the flavors of the food, especially the salad bar, which included Israeli salad, Moroccan carrots, sautéed red beets and fried eggplant.
"The customers that we had were wonderful. The customers made the whole thing worthwhile. Just to see their faces when they ate the food was great," Shamir said.
You don't have to travel far to find another local restaurant serving shawarma, shaved meat prepared on a vertical rotisserie similar to Greek gyros and often served in a pita with diced cucumber and hummus. Look no further than Falafel Grill, located about a mile away at 2075 Pine Ridge Road.
New Falafel Grill
Falafel Grill, which has been operating for two years in North Naples, has even opened a second location in downtown Naples. Originally opened in October as Porto Cafe Mediterranean Grill, the name of the new restaurant was changed Friday to Falafel Grill, to mirror its older sister.
"It's the same flavor, same recipes, same menu, same everything," said owner Feibi Gouda.
The initial name was confusing to customers, Gouda said, so she changed it to capitalize more on the success of her first restaurant.
The new Falafel Grill is located in Trinity Plaza on the corner of U.S. 41 and Third Avenue North. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day except Sunday, when it is closed.
More local restaurant news
■ Komoon Thai Sushi & Ceviche, an innovative local restaurant offering a unique selection of food from Thailand, Japan and Peru, opened Nov. 6 in the northeast corner of Mission Square, off Pine Ridge Road in North Naples.
"We may be the only place in the region to have a sushi and ceviche combo," said co-owner Paul Adrianzen.
Each section of Komoon's impressive 12-page menu is conveniently divided by its different cuisines: "From the Thai Kitchen," "From the Sushi Bar," "From the Japanese Kitchen," and "From the Peruvian Kitchen."
"It was a challenge offering so many things," Adrianzen said. "We tried to design it in a way that it will be easier to follow."
Menu items even have QR codes that smart-phone users can scan to instantly see photos and more information about entrees.
The new restaurant's location, 1575 Pine Ridge Road, was the former home of Jane's Restaurant, which closed a year ago. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
By the way, the name Komoon essentially means "island moon." "Ko" is Thai for "island," and the moon is a reference to Thailand's Full Moon Party, an all-night beach celebration on the night before or after every full moon.
■ Mangrove Café, 878 Fifth Ave. S., is set to reopen Thursday night after being closed for more than 10 months when the local restaurant was destroyed following a propane tank explosion Jan. 10 behind the building.
"We kept the dining room basically the same, but the kitchen is all new and the bathrooms are all new," said Diane Amaral, who co-owns the Naples restaurant with her husband, Doug.
Not only is the longtime local favorite back with basically the same staff, but it has added more appetizer and entrée options to its menu. "We kept all of the regular items we have had for 20 years, but we've added more," she said.
For now, Mangrove Café will be a dinner-only venue, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and closed Sundays.
■ Aqua is the new name of the former Bert's Seafood and Chowder House, located at 862 Fifth Ave. S., almost next door to the Mangrove Cafe. Bert's reopened under new ownership earlier this year when the original Bert's closed in January after operating for only a year at the former home of Corks Steakhouse & Wine Bar. The new management invited patrons to rename the restaurant, which "features Mediterranean style food preparation with fresh locally grown ingredients and local wild caught fish," according to its website.
■ Altin's Café & Grill reopened Saturday farther west on Fifth Avenue South after it was closed for about 10 weeks this fall to expand into an adjoining space. The expansion nearly doubled the café's size from about 1,000 square feet to more than 1,800 square feet.
With the expanded space comes expanded hours. Altin's, 368 Fifth Ave. S., serves breakfast and lunch every day and formerly served dinner only three nights a week. The café now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week, with just breakfast and lunch on Sundays. Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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