- Matthew Schniper
- Ornate tea sets highlight Fala-Filo’s pretty presentations.
The lamb holds no gaminess, but from the jameed acquires a faintly tart tanginess and richness, which further picks up rosemary essence from one rice, and a mild acidic spice from tomato paste and jalapeño in the other — the pita as a secondary starch to soak up the flavor symphony. Gorguis’ rendition is a hypnotic showstopper, exclusive to town we think, and well worth $20 and a visit to Fala-Filo.
If her name and the overall quality of her food’s familiar, it’s because she split off from Arabian Nights Café, which I glowingly reviewed in 2016, sharing her story as an Iraqi refugee who gleaned cooking experience while displaced for years in Syria, then Turkey before immigrating. She previously practiced civil law, and as evidenced by gorgeous Middle Eastern mosaics hung around her dining room, she’s a gifted artist, too.
Another character who makes more of our experience than the food alone offers: our server Nabil, who’s more accurately a guide, showing humor and warmth, always ready with detailed answers to our questions, complete with a description of his 14-year-old, soccer-fanatic twins, who also vouch for Mansaf as Fala-Filo’s go-to dish.
Location Details Fala-Filo
Macdouce is a delightful appetizer of pungent, lightly sour, pigroockled and olive oil-preserved baby eggplants, stuffed with walnuts, peppers and herbs to mash and spread on pita with a smear of hummus. Nabil says we must try the Iraqi grilled meats, so we grab a combo dish with nicely chewy, juicy lamb, chicken and beef kebab, plus side fixings, savoring a notable tangy, salty element to the herbaceous marinades — one of Gorguis’ secrets (she won’t share the ingredients).
She’s quite a pastry chef, too, we recall, so we depart with sweets to-go, a mix of baklava flavors (potent cinnamon-pecan, and clever carrot-coconut), her syrupy Syrian sweet cheese rolls (Halwaet Aljeben) and a shredded filo wrap filled with cloying pistachio cream (kunafeh).
Sweet might be the best word to encapsulate our whole experience; looking back, we were all smiles, surprised at many turns, charmed by our hosts, overjoyed by our food and drink.