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RESTAURANTS / THE FIND

A pocket full of fresh at Bella Pita

June 18, 2008|Susan LaTempa | Times Staff Writer
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

PLENTY OF L.A. cafe owners have realized that ethnic food can have enhanced crossover appeal if healthful characteristics of the cuisine are emphasized. Lately, even fast-food places are oriented toward fresh and good-for-you offerings, often because that's the way proprietors like to eat.

So the tiny, four-stool falafel counter Bella Pita is just one of several Westwood spots courting the student crowd by noting its use of canola and olive oils only and house-made dressings. But it amusingly pushes the competition to another level by baking its pita on premises (who can resist the aroma of baking bread?) and by having created a funny and delicious fusion food it calls the "wowshi." This is a panini meets pita sandwich meets burrito item made by filling a pita with beef and cheese, beans and cheese or a three-cheese combination; embellishing the filling with chopped parsley, olives, onions and spices; and baking the concoction. The result is a crisp, better-than-flatbread exterior with a hot, melty interior loaded with, for example, the salty flavors of feta and olives. You want one?

Of course, Bella Pita has falafel, each green-flecked (herb-loaded) patty formed to order by a counter guy wielding a kitchen tool that looks like the Statue of Liberty's torch. You can take them in a sandwich or a cone. There's a tuna pita option too. And fries. Soda, water, some juices.

Whether you select wowshi or pita, step to the compact condiment/salad bar and grab a squirt bottle of hot sauce, lemon dressing, "really, really hot sauce" or another drizzler. If you just want a little salad, there are three kinds of greens, feta and kalamata olives too.

That's it. You're done. Less than five bucks, maybe $7 altogether with tax and a drink. Your appetite is satisfied, and your conscience is clear.

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susan.latempa@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Bella Pita

Location: 960 Gayley Ave. (Westwood Village), Los Angeles, (310) 209-1050.

Price: Pita sandwiches, $4 to $4.50; "wowshis," $3.75 to $4.75; salad, $3.50.

Best dishes: Bean wowshi, falafel pita.

Details: Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. All major credit cards.

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