Before you start dining at Ammatoli, there are few terms you might want to know.

It features cuisine of the Levant, which includes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. Mezza is a small plate in Middle Eastern cuisine. Beef Kafta is a combination of ground beef and spices. Lane is traditional strained yogurt cheese. Zaatar is a family of herbs. Hummus is a spread that includes chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil and Tahini.

Learn them. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. The menu provides helpful clarity, and the food is uniformly good.

Everybody says they cook with fresh ingredients these days, but Ammatoli has created a series of dishes that make the most of fresh ingredients, with every dish more intriguing and enjoyable than the previous one.

The chicken kebab luncheon special ($12.90) comes with two sides and vermicelli rice. The chicken already removed from the skewer, which means diners don’t have to struggle to slide food off the skewer.

The chicken is arranged on a bed of vermicelli rice. The chicken is tender, moist and perfectly done to a golden brown. The seasoning on the chicken is excellent, with a slight lemony tartness on the first bite and finishing with a little heat that lingers on the palate.

Ammatoli’s version of hummus is fresh, with a clean taste that is strong without being overpowering. It is served with fresh, tender pita.

Complimenting this are some grape leaves with several flavors. The soft grape leaves are a delicate contrast to the slightly crunchy rice. Hard not to chow down on them.

Fresh produce and bread are delivered daily. They described food as made from scratch and health oriented.

Dinner Kebab choices start at $13.95 for lamb, beef or chicken. There are more than a dozen choices of sides such as hummus, fries, veggies and many more.

Tender Rotisserie chicken starts at $8.95

If you’re with a group and don’t want to make too many decisions, the Family Sized Kebab feast includes six kebab skewers, gyro and grilled veggies.

Soups include a personal favorite, lentil.

The Ammatoli House Salad ($13.95) is Romaine, chicken, croutons, garbanzo and rice in olive oil house dressing topped with Parmesan.

Don’t miss the Mediterranean Fries ($6.95), which are fries with olive oil, garlic, lemon and cilantro topped with feta cheese.

For dessert, they have baklava, of course, but save room for the Knafeh Jibena. Meant to be shared, it’s delicate phyllo dough, topped with cheese, orange blossom syrup and pistachios.

Atmosphere

Ammatoli has an airy Mediterranean feel. Floor to ceiling widows overlook a small outdoor dining area on Third Street. Inside there are several long tables, smaller tables and a high table along the window.

Important to Know

You can order from the counter or be waited on at the table. It’s wine and beer at Ammatoli. Beers include an Armenia Kotayk light lager.

Ammatoli is at 285 E. Third St. and they open at 11 a.m. daily. The phone is (562) 435-0808 and the website is www.ammatoli.com.

Kurt comes to the Gazettes with 30 years experience in broadcasting and journalism. He has produced and/or directed hundreds of television programs, including news, sports, entertainment, election coverage, town meetings and telethons.

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