When Taci’s sign went up last summer on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills heralding the arrival of a Turkish restaurant, we were positively salivating. We knew of the highly regarded Brooklyn establishment similarly named Taci’s Beyti and hoped for a clone. What we got about two weeks ago was, if not a clone, a spin-off.
Annette Dulger was a longtime fan of Taci’s Brooklyn spot. Although professionally she was a jeweler, she learned Turkish cooking at her mother’s knee. She used her powers of persuasion to convince Taci Bec, owner of the Brooklyn original to partner with her on this Forest Hills venture.
The menu here offers classic Turkish fare — surely one of the most delectable cuisines of the Mediterranean. Pastirma — the Turkish dried cured beef antecedent of pastrami — is a leitmotif that runs throughout every movement of the menu. In addition to hot and cold appetizers, salads, and entrees, there is an extensive list of pide, the Anatolian answer to pizza. Everything is house made here.
It’s tempting to make a meal of the appetizers, especially if you’re a vegetarian. There is a nice complement of savory dips and spreads, perfect for gathering onto the house baked pide bread which more closely resembles focaccia than pita. There are also some more unusual cold items like a single jumbo artichoke served with potatoes, peas and carrots. When our companion confessed to disliking stuffed grape leaves, our server insisted we try (gratis) Ms. Dulger’s rendition. The slightly sweet pignoli-studded filling created an on-the-spot convert.
Shepherd’s salad is a classic of diced tomatoes, cukes, peppers, and red onion topped with feta cheese, olives and parsley. We preferred it to the Esme salad which is another chopped salad, but in this case minus the cheese, but with the addition of killer heat in the form of hot peppers. Unless you are looking for an incendiary blast for your taste buds, stick with the shepherd.
The hot appetizers have plenty to offer as well. Try the hummus with pastrami, which is a red-hot ceramic crock of hummus studded with pastirma and slathered with butter. It’s great heaped on the focaccia-like bread in the basket on the table.
Although it’s positioned in the “From the oven” category, Findik Lahmacun makes a superb hot appetizer. It’s a platter of five crisp, thin crusted mini-pide topped with cumin-infused blend of ground lamb, tomatoes and onion. It makes it even more delicious when you pile on some of the sumac sprinkled shaved red onion on the platter.
Taci’s is also something of a Turkish pizzeria. Is “pideria” a word? They offer ultra-thin crusted boat-shaped pies with an assortment of topping options. Various combinations include Turkish sausage (sucuklu), ground lamb, pastirma, and kasseri, a mozzarella-like Turkish cheese. They make a tasty change from the usual Italian pie.
The downfall of many an ethnic restaurant is the quality of its meat, but that is definitely NOT the case here. All the meats in the mixed grill — shish kebab, baby lamb chop, donner kebab and adana kebab — were tender and succulent without a trace of gristle or fat and are sure to please. We particularly favored the adana kebab for its outstanding use of traditional Turkish spicing, but you really can’t go wrong.
The signature dessert, baked to order, is kunefe, shredded dough layered with sweet kunefe cheese served with honey syrup and pistachio topping. It has its own unique flavor that is sort of like eating a pastry and a grilled cheese sandwich at the same time.
Taci’s really spins the dial on our yum-o-meter. They offer some of the best Turkish fare to be had in the metropolitan area. It’s a great spot for casual or family dining, and for take-out. The service is warm, friendly and efficient. The tables are too close together for a heavy date, but the moderate prices and deliciousness make it perfect for anything else.
Suzanne Parker is the TimesLedger’s restaurant critic and author of “Eating Like Queens: A Guide to Ethnic Dining in America’s Melting Pot, Queens, N.Y.” She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
102-07 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Price Range: Appetizers: $4.75–8.75; Entrees: $11.25–18
Setting: Small, freshly decorated, tables close together.
Service: Friendly and efficient
Hours: Lunch & Dinner daily
Alcohol: License pending
Credit cards: Yes
Noise level: Noisy when busy
Handicap accessible: Yes