Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Restaurant closed Sunday but carryout available 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Prices: Dinner for two with appetizers, drinks and desserts costs $20 to $30, including tax and tip. Cards: Master Card, Visa.
We didn't think we would find another interesting version of a gyros sandwich, but this glorified pizza and sandwich parlor has one -- and it's delicious. Most restaurants slice ground, seasoned lamb onto a leaden flat bread, sprinkle a little tomato on top and roll it up. But Atilla's tucks the lamb -- lots of lamb -- inside a pouch made of yeasty homemade dough, seals it all up like a calzone, bakes it until the crust is crispy and brown and then tops it with a garlicky red pepper puree or your choice of sauces. This fat, juicy sandwich-pie, practically a meal by itself, costs only $3.25 -- a good example of the way Atilla's takes standards you could buy at 100 sandwich shops around town and does them better.
Atilla's dresses like a full-fledged restaurant with tablecloths and big, comfortable (if ugly) chairs. The restaurant likes to advertise its "Turkish and continental cuisine," with specialties such as moussaka and veal cutlet parmigiana. But for the most part, these serious-sounding dishes are ordinary and divert attention from what Atilla's does best -- and that is to serve some of the best pizza and sandwiches around. The pizza, like the gyros, is made with good, strong dough -- it's light and chewy and has a great, shiny crust; the tomato sauce is just a little bit spicy, and like most of the other dishes on the menu, it doesn't cost much. You can order a large Atilla's Special with a bunch of toppings, probably enough to fill three or four people, for $8.95.
And Atilla's serves lots of extras that other pizza and gyros shops don't have. Good appetizers, for instance. Try borek, small meat or cheese pastries wrapped in a flaky crust, or the delicious home-made yogurt tossed with sliced cucumber and mint (cacik). At other restaurants, pita bread is usually a bore, but here the kitchen makes its own and, like the other dough, it's delicious -- dip the pita in plenty of yogurt. The grape leaves aren't as good: too dense, and they taste like they might have been canned. And the french fries and onion rings are nothing special.
We said that most of the main course specialties are ordinary. For instance, we've had awfully soggy spinach pie and disappointing doner kebab (which is surprising, since it's made with the same lamb mixture as the gyros). But there's at least one wonderful, outstanding exception: shish kebab, some of the best shish kebab we've eaten in the area, charred and pink and juicy, nicely marinated, easily worth $9.95.
For dessert, Atilla's offers cheesecake and chocolate mousse, both dull, and baklava made with pistachios instead of the more usual walnuts. We aren't crazy about it, but it's interesting -- try it and see what you think.