Ali Baba’s Terrace
862 2nd Avenue at 46th Street.
Open on weekdays from 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM, and on weekends from 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM. Starting in April, a late night bar menu will be introduced on the rooftop terrace.
For more information of reservations and private parties, call 212-888-8622 or visit Ali Baba’s Terrace on the web at http://www.alibabasterrace.com
Ali Baba’s Terrace Shines
Review By Nancy Walman
If the fabled story of Ali Baba brings to mind a little-known space filled with endless riches, there is no doubt that the restaurant that shares its name should do the same. Though it’s location in Midtown East is hardly a secret, the wide array of authentic Turkish dishes it offers is a less-known treasure trove—until now, that is.
However, the restaurant’s name does not so much intend a comparison to the golden loot as it does to a much more humble story: that of owner Ali Dogan and his “baba,” or father, who joined forces to move their family from Turkey to America and pursue their own version of the American Dream.
New to the States in 1986, Ali decided to help his father by taking a position as a dishwasher where he would unknowingly begin an education to last a lifetime. Within two years, he’d cycled through all the kitchen’s stations and was ready to open his own place with his baba—a pizza shop on Manhattan’s East Side.
Blessed with equal parts love, talent, and luck, Ali embarked upon his path to success when members of the Turkish Mission stumbled upon his shop. Ali began offering them Turkish Stuffed Pita by special order, and his special talent—a seemingly magical sensibility to cooking that Ali says could only be God-given—was suddenly revealed. Before long, Ali could no longer keep up with the increase in demand.
Twelve years after opening his first Turkish restaurant, Ali finally found his own treasure trove when a friend told him a space was available near the UN, complete with an ample rooftop terrace. In August 2008, Ali Baba’s Terrace opened in that space with an expanded menu and Chef Senol Bakir at its helm.
Hailing from Bolu, Turkey, a city midway between Ankara and Istanbul known for its culinary talent, Chef Bakir boasts an internationally renowned culinary education from Bolu’s prestigious Anatolian Culinary School. Together, Ali and Chef Bakir devised a sophisticated menu, renovated the space, and created an additional floor to support the extensive cooking that would no doubt propel the restaurant.
Indeed, this space allows Ali Baba’s Terrace to deliver a variety of delicacies that logistically cannot be delivered otherwise. These include a signature sesame flatbread that’s baked on premises and delivered to the table at the start of each meal, so soft and chewy that patrons may think it’s stuffed with cheese. The bread is best enjoyed dipped into a combination of traditional spreads, like Soslu Patilcan, a chunky eggplant salad with fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic; or Acili Ezme, a spicy spread of finely minced vegetables with walnuts, spices, and lemon juice.
Hot appetizers are generous in both flavor and size. Icli Kofte, a traditional dish of wheat bulgur stuffed with seasoned ground lamb and pine nuts comes artfully presented with yogurt sauce and scallions. An order of Pacanga Boregi is akin to a Turkish boreca that pairs crunchy filo dough with salty pastrami and sweet, oozing kashar cheese—an explosion of flavor and texture. Liver-lovers take note cubes of calf’s liver, potatoes and shallots is a terrific starter.
No Turkish meal would be complete without an assortment of grilled meats, and it is in this category that Ali Baba’s Terrace truly distinguishes itself. Though grilled meats are perhaps the most commonly found element of Turkish cuisine, Ali and Chef Bakir are quick to point out that they’re also the most commonly ruined. Whereas many vendors buy their meats pre-chopped and frozen, the kitchen staff at Ali Baba’s Terrace dedicates itself to the tedious process of hand chopping all meats freshly every day—any leftovers are donated to food banks rather than re-used to preserve quality, freshness, and flavor. The love and work that go into the meats shows through best with the Doner Kebab, thinly sliced lamb and beef marinated with the chef’s secret blend of spices and cooked on a rotating spit that gives the dish it’s name, which means “turning kebab”.
Still, the vast menu goes beyond grilled meats to include specialty poultry, seafood, and meat dishes as well. The Teras Tavuk, or Terrace Chicken, is a house special made with a unique Kashar cheese and cream sauce—the purely original dish marries some of Turkey’s most famous flavors and is exclusive to Ali Baba’s Terrace. Levrek, or sea bass, is grilled whole with just a bare rub of olive oil and salt, preserving the fish’s natural flavor. Ali Nazik, perhaps the restaurant’s most popular dish, consists of chopped kebab with smoked eggplant puree, garlic yogurt, and tomato sauce—it is a time-intensive dish bursting with freshness and vibrant flavors.
Diners would be wise to save room for dessert. Those who enjoy a well-crafted pastry will no doubt be more than content with the Kazandibi, a milk custard enveloped by a ball of sweet dough. Baklava and Rice Pudding are familiar favorites, but the real showstopper is the Kunefe, a round cake of shredded filo dough stuffed with naturally fat-free, sweet goat cheese that stretches with each forkful and melts in the mouth (Fabulous! Don’t miss it).
All Turkish food is best enjoyed with Turkish wine, Ali says, and the wine list at Ali Baba’s is both diverse and affordable. With half the wines hailing from Turkey and no bottle exceeding $63, it’s easy to indulge. There is also a fine selection by the glass and good Turkish beer.
Ali also points out that traditional Turkish meals can be extensive and often take several hours to consume—something he certainly doesn’t see as reason to complain. To aid in the lengthy process, he shares that many stimulate their appetite with Raki, a grape and anise liqueur that’s traditionally enjoyed diluted with water. Though at least three premium varieties of Raki are available at Ali Baba’s Terrace, a full cocktail menu (including the best $11 martini in town) ensures that anyone looking to “stimulate their appetite” will be pleased. Favorites like the Terrace Cosmo (Absolut Citron, Cointreau, Lime and Cranberry) or Nuts and Berries (Chambord and Frangelico) can also be enjoyed on Ali Baba’s namesake rooftop terrace, which seats 60 and boasts a glowing atmosphere with soft gold lighting that emits from the terrace lights and buildings nearby.
Downstairs, a clean, minimalist look offers terra cotta walls, hung with colorful pictures and an equally enjoyable atmosphere in which to enjoy some of New York’s best Turkish cuisine. A group of 4 or more offers the ideal way to pass and taste. Let one of the helpful staff members guide you and you are sure to be delighted at Ali Baba’s Terrace, which rates A Major on the Walman Report.
Copyright 2009 by Punch In International. All Rights Reserved
Typical Menu (Subject to Change)
Ali Baba’s Terrace
Address: 862 Second Avenue New York
Homemade yogurt mixed with chopped cucumber, mint and dill $5.95
Acili Ezme (Spicy Mashed Vegetables)
A mixture of minced tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, walnut, hot spices, olive oil and lemon juice $6.50
Red beans , potatoes, carrots in tomato base sauce $6.50
Soslu Patlican (Eggplant with Tomato Sauce)
Small pieces of eggplant in mederately spicy sauce of fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and garlic $6.50
Ispanak Tarator (Spinach Tarator)
Homemade dry yogurt with sautéed fresh spinach and garlic $6.50
Tarama (Red Caviar Spread)
Red caviar spread with olive oil and lemon juice $6.50
Patlican Salatasi (Eggplant Salad)
Smoked eggplant with grilled peppers, grilled tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings $6.50
Cerkez Tavuk (Cerkez Chicken)
Shredded chicken breast, mixed with walnuts, bread crumbs and seasonings $7.50
Mashed chick peas blended with fresh garlic, tahini and herbs $6.50
Smoked eggplant puree, olive oil, tahini souce, herbs and spices $6.50
Karisik Tursu (Mix Pickles) $6.50
A generouse portion of fresh Feta Cheese $7.50
ZEYTINYAGLILAR (OLIVE OIL SPECIALS)
Taze Fasulye (String Beans)
Baby string beans cooked with tomatoes, onion, olive oil and, lemon juice $7.95
Yaprak Sarma (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Grape leaves stuffed with special seasoned rice, topped with olive oil $7.95
Zeytinyagli Pirasa (Leeks)
Fresh leeks in olive oil with carrots and rice $7.95
Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)
Whole baby eggplant stuffed with tomatoes, onions and herbs, cooked with olive oil $8.50
Baby eggplant and zucchini stuffed with rice, onion, pine nuts, black cumin and herbs $8.50
For the parties above 6 gratuity will be included
Ask your server for our daily specials
Mercimek- Lentil Soup $4.95
Soup of the Day $5.50
Tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, parsley and walnuts, served with pomegranate sauce $10.95
Akdeniz Salatasi (Mediterranean Salad)
Lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, with Feta Cheese Sm $10.95 Lg $12.95
Mevsim Salatasi (Seasonal Salad)
Mesculine greens, tomato, cucumber, carrots, red cabbage, beet roots and corn with house dressing $9.95
Coban Salatasi (Shepherd Salad)
Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, parsley and onion mixed with lemon and olive oil sauce Sm $10.95 Lg $12.95
Ahtopot Salatasi (Octopus Salad)
Grilled octopus, tomato, onion, olive oil with lemon juice $12.95
Tavuk Salatasi (Chicken Salad)
Your choice of Mediterranean or Shepherd Salad topped with chicken shish $18.95
Wheat bulgur stuffed with seasoned ground lamb and pine nuts $9.95
Pastrami Deniz Tara (Scallops with Turkish Pastrami)
Scallops wrapped with Turkish pastrami $9.95
Kalamar Izgara (Grilled Calamari)
Tender pieces of char grilled calamari seasoned with garlic, parsley and white wine $10.50
Kalamar Tava (Fried Calamari)
Fried calamari with our special sauce $9.95
Pastirmali Humus (Pastrami Humus)
Humus with pastrami $9.95
Arnavut Cigeri (Fried Calf’s Liver)
Pan fried calf’s liver cubes and potatoes with shallots $9.95
Pacanga Boregi $7.95
Mantarli Biftek (Steak with Mushrooms)
Sirloin steak grilled to perfection served with our delicate mushroom sauce and with homemade Terrace potatoes $24.95
Biberli Biftek (Pepper Steak)
Sirloin steak grilled to perfection served with hot pepper, fresh tomatoes, garlic and seasonings with mix vegetables $24.95
Chicken Shish, Lamb Shish, Kofte Kebab, Lamb Chop served with rice $24.95
Kuzu Pirzola (Lamb Chops)
Lamb chops with Chef’s special herbs served with rice $21.95
Kuzu Sis (Lamb Shish)
Special marinated cubes of baby lamb grilled to delight on skewers served with rice $19.95
Doner kebab served over bread topped with a fresh tomato sauce and a healthy portion of fresh yogurt $18.95
Slightly seasoned handchopped lamb flavored with red bell peppers, grilled on skewers served with rice $17.95
Ground beef and lamb mixed with special turkish spices served with rice $17.95
Mixture of ground beef and lamb seasoned with spicy peppers, tomatoes and special herbs served with rice and french fries $17.95
Doner (Gyro Kebab)
Thinly sliced lamb and beef marinated with chef’s own secret blend of seasoning, cooked on rotating spit, served with rice $16.95
Slightly seasoned handchopped lamb flavored with red bell peppers, spices & garlic, grilled on skewers $18.95
Teras Tavuk (Terrace Chicken)
Cubes of chicken breast, sautéed with broccoli and walnut served with Kashari Cheese and cream sauce $18.95
Limonlu Chicken (Chicken with lemon sauce)
Breast of chicken with white wine sauce and lemon juice with Chef’s seasonings $18.95
Tavuk Sis (Chicken Shish)
Tender chunks of chicken, marinated with Chef’s own blend of herbs and spices $17.95
Tavuk Adana (Chicken Adana)
Hand chopped chicken flavored with red bell peppers, parsley seasoned with paprika $16.95
Whole grilled Mediterranean Dorado, served with vegetables $22.95
Sis Kilic Baligi (Sword Fish Shish)
Whole grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass served with vegetables $22.95
Fillet, St. Peter with Chef’s fish herbs served with vegetables $20.95
Somon Izgara (Grilled Salmon)
Steak cut Salmon, grilled, served over a bed of sautéed spinach $20.95
Karides Guvec (Shrimp Casserole)
Shrimp sautéed with onion, garlic, peppers and tomatoes, topped with kashar cheese $19.95
Grilled filet mignon served with fresh mushroom sauce and mixed vegetables $24.95
Chunks of lamb sautéed with shallots, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and special Turkish spices $19.95
Tender slices of lamb, sautéed with fresh onion, green peppers and mushrooms served over homemade potatoes and yogurt $18.95
Hunkar Begendi (Eggplant Puree with Lamb)
Cubes of baby lamb cooked with tomato sauce served over charcoal roasted eggplant puree with Kasar Cheese $18.95
Chopped kebabs served over smoked eggplant puree mixed with garlic yogurt and tomato sauce $18.95
Bamya (Vegetable Dish)
Baby okra baked with fresh tomatoes and carrots, served with rice $15.95
Add lamb $3.00 Extra
Türlü (Mixed Vegetables) (Vegetable Dish)
A fine mixture of potatoes, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, white onion, red/green peppers, and garlic sauteed with our light tomato sauce Served with rice $16.95
Add lamb $3.00 Extra
French Fries $5.00
Mushroom, onions $6.50
Terrace Potatoes $5.95
Steamed Mixed Vegetables $6.95
For the parties above 6 gratuity will be included
Ask your server for wine list
Designed by Bekir Ergisi