I’ve had lunch twice so far at Pasha, a new Turkish restaurant in Arlington Center. Although I don’t know anything yet about their dinners, I can highly recommend it on the basis of the two lunches. If you’ve never had Turkish cuisine, you have to try it! Unsurprisingly it resembles Greek cuisine quite a bit — it’s unsurprising since the majority of Greek foods were originally Turkish, presumably in part because of the geographical proximity of the two countries but more because of the Ottoman Empire. Anyway, the very extensive menu includes a wide variety of meat, seafood, and veggie dishes, with the expected emphasis on lamb and eggplant. At our recent lunch we shared a perfectly done babaghannouj as a cold appetizer (though oddly with an Americanized French bread instead of pita), an unusual mucver as a hot appetizer (that’s fried stuffed zucchini with garlic yogurt sauce, accompanied by a small salad), and the delicious Sultan’s Boat as an entree (described as “beef and lamb marinated with Turkish spices, roasted with mashed potatoes and mozzarella cheese, served with bulgar and house salad”). Despite the bread and the mozzarella cheese (and the presence of lasagna on the menu), Pasha seems very authentic, if I can remember correctly from my visit to Turkey all too long ago — I think it was in 1978. And they do serve wine and beer; even though Turkey is an ostensibly Muslim nation, it’s a thoroughly secularized one.
My only complaint is a linguistic one. Because they chose to use a font that doesn’t include such essential Turkish letters as the undotted i (ı) or the ş and ç with cedillas — all distinct from the dotted i, the plain s, and the plain c — many of the Turkish words were incorrect. Somehow I suspect that that won’t bother very many of the patrons, but it bothered me.