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.