We've all heard the benefits of a Mediterranean diet but did you know that it is also tastes Really Good? I've eaten many types of cuisine but this is one that could totally change the way I eat for good. The dishes are presented beautifully and all the ingredients are fresh and full of flavor. You eat and feel like not only did you enjoy every delicious bite, but you've done a nice thing for your body. It's filling yet you don't feel like you need to lie down and take a nap when you're done. It truly makes you feel good. I am in love with the food at Aladdin's.
The dining room is bright and inviting. Owner Laurie Chamoun's family opened Aladdin's in Boardman over 15 years ago and proudly tells me "produce is delivered fresh every day, our family makes the pita bread and all the desserts. The chicken is all natural, the desserts have no preservatives." "Everything is fresh, made from scratch and the best quality." The entire staff is very friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu. Chris and Mike were in the kitchen. Ellen has been with Aladdin's over 6 years and Manager Pepe Parish has been there 9 years. A vegetarian himself, he loves eating at Aladdin's because "there are a lot of options here". His favorite dish changes week to week but one of his very favorites is the "Mujadara Plate". This is one dish on the menu I personally probably would never have thought to order. Some of us just don't like to try a whole plate of something new, but after one bite of this, I will never overlook anything on the menu at Aladdin's again.
Mujadara is a bed of steamed lentils and rice topped with a Lebanese Salata and a mound of crunchy fried onion strings. The mixture of the warm, perfectly cooked, lentils and rice with the cool salata and the crunch from the onions is an amazing mix of flavors and textures. Of all the reviews I've done, this dish makes it to the top of my list. It's so different, it's full of flavor, it was a total surprise. As I write this review my mouth is watering. I will be back to Aladdin's soon but will I make good on my promise about not overlooking anything on the menu? I have a feeling I may be ordering more than one dish next time because the Mujadara is a must. Maybe I just like saying it, Mujadara. Well, I can't quite say it the way Pepe does, but it is one of the best things I've ever tried.
The menu is full of everything from Appetizers and Smoothies to Pitzas, Pockets, Pitas, Specialties and Desserts. I tried a little bit of everything and owner Laurie Chamoun kept sending out dish after dish, much to my delight. I couldn't wait to try everything. Some things I've had before and others, like the Mujadara, were first time tastes for me.
I was so excited about the Mujadara that I started my review a bit out of order, so forgive me for backtracking but at this point I'm taking you back to the start. Appetizers.
Aladdin's serves some wonderful appetizers or light bites if you will. Over a dozen to choose from, Laurie made it easy for me and just sent out plates, one after the other.
Hummus can be found at a lot of restaurants, and not just Middle Eastern eateries. At Aladdin's, everything is made from scratch, including the Hummus. Chickpeas, tahini and lemon are blended together into a velvety creamy dip then drizzled lightly with olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh parsley and served with fresh pita. Ask for a side of Aladdin's hot sauce. Laurie says the hummus and the hot sauce are the "dynamic duo". The combination is a perfect match. The cool, smooth hummus when mixed with the hot sauce gives you a cool bite with a little afterburner. I love heat when I eat and I've just found another go to favorite. I'm totally addicted to this dish. A great way to start a meal or the perfect late night snack.
If you want a little variety, pair up the Hummus with Baba. Fresh, roasted eggplant is pureed with tahini, garlic and lemon, and also topped with a drizzle of oil and fresh herbs. You can taste the smokiness of the eggplant and the nice garlic lemon combination is wonderful.
I love Fattoush as will any salad lover. A colorful chopped salad blend of fresh mixed greens, cucumber, tomato and pita chips tossed with lemon, garlic, sumac, olive oil and fresh herbs. It's very light and packed with fresh flavors. If ordering as a meal, add grilled chicken to take this salad to the next level.
Kibbie is one of the few fried dishes at Aladdin's. Even though it's fried, it's not greasy and it's so yummy. Lean ground beef is mixed with spices, pine nuts and onion all wrapped in this crunchy outer shell. You take one bite and it cracks open to this steamy, aromatic blend of goodness. Served with a fresh Lebanese Salata and dish of cool yogurt, these meat pods are popular any time of the day.
Falafel is a dish that is used in many ways. As an appetizer, they kind of look like mini muffins. These vegetarian patties are made with chick peas, lava beans, parsley and scallions. Fried in peanut oil and served with a cool tahini yogurt sauce. They're a little spicy and can also be ordered in a rolled pita or on top a Pita Pitza.
A side dish that is the perfect accompaniment to everything on the menu is Tabouli. It's just a pretty dish to look at with all the bright green, fresh chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions and cracked wheat. It's tossed with olive oil, lemon and herbs and it's delicious alone with pita or sneaking in a bite here and there while eating everything else on the table.
Dawali, or more commonly known, Stuffed Grape Leaves, are one of my favorite things to eat. These little cigar shaped, filled wraps are just the perfect size to pick up and enjoy. The Dawali at Aladdin's is a vegetarian dish. Stuffed with rice, chick peas, tomato and parsley then topped with Aladdin's dressing, feta cheese (another favorite of mine) and parsley.
For a quick lunch or light dinner, or pretty much any time of day, try one of Aladdin's Pita Pitzas or wonderful soups. They serve several different soups all year long and today I was offered a nice big bowl of Vegetarian Chili. I love chili when it's cold out, and I loved this mildly spicy bowl even in the Summer. Loaded with kidney beans, onions, chunks of tomato, and hints of the unique Middle Eastern spices. It's not too hot and very filling. A side of cool hummus and pita and you've got the perfect lunch.
I mentioned earlier how I like feta, so, of course, I knew I was going to love the Greek Pitza. A Pitza at Aladdin's starts with a pita bread and then the party begins. You can get a Pitza a half a dozen ways. The Greek Pitza is layered with feta cheese, cool, diced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, fresh green pepper strips, kalamata olives all garnished with fresh basil. Loved every bite. Two Pitzas on my radar for my next visit; Aladdin's Chicken Pitza and Arayiss Pitza. A little tease; grilled chicken with Honey Dijon and Garlic Sauce, and Hummus, ground meat, pine nuts and more. Are you hungry yet?
The entire menu is available for lunch or dinner so you have plenty to choose from and let me tell you, you will have a hard time choosing. Specialties on the menu include the Mujadara Plate and several other platters. The Aladdin's Favorite Combo is true to its name. Beef Kafta, Shish Kabob and Chicken Tawook are served on a bed of a seasoned rice and vermicelli combo. A green salad with sliced cucumber on the side with your choice of dressing. The Kafta is like a Mediterranean mini meatloaf. Ground beef is mixed with onion, parsley, herbs and spices for a delightful bite. The meat and chicken are tender, cooked and seasoned perfectly and just melt in your mouth. Not only does this dish look good, it tastes good as well. I see why it's a favorite.
If you're out shopping or just need a break from the heat. Stop in for a freshly made fruit smoothie or a slice of heaven with one of Aladdin's desserts. The Tropical Storm Smoothie, Pepe tells me, is a popular choice. A fresh, slushy fruit blend of guava, mango, pineapple, honey and yogurt. It's thick, icy cold and delicious. The smoothies are all natural with no additives.
While the smoothies are delicious, the desserts are what will make you smile. Selection may vary with the seasons but everything from the gourmet cakes, to the Baklava are heavenly. The Baklava is light, not saturated with honey, crispy, light layers of phyllo and fine ground nuts create just the right sweetness. Hands down the best Baklava I've ever eaten. If I could find a way to make it possible, I would have one of these diamond shaped gems every night before going to bed.
Aladdin's Signature Cake is going to please chocolate lovers everywhere. A moist triple layer cake is filled with layers of whipped cream and chocolate mocha mousse. Frosted in a rich chocolate ganache then drizzled with chocolate syrup. Cheesecake lovers are not left out at Aladdin's. I tried the seasonal, and very popular, Key Lime Cheesecake. A deliciously light whipped cream cheese with just a hint of lime topped with a layer of whipped cream and lime curd. What a great dessert. Cool and refreshing, sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Aladdin's has won numerous awards. Everything from Best Healthy Dining to Best Kid's Menu. A variety of meals are suitable for those with special diets including over 40 vegetarian and vegan meals and over 40 gluten free options as well. Wine and beer is also available to enjoy with your meal. Aladdin's carries their own label as well as other favorites in red and white varieties, or enjoy a cold beer from Lebanon, the perfect combination with Hummus and pita (it's a great date night combination).
I enjoyed so many wonderful dishes yet there are so many more to tantalize my taste buds with. I'm looking forward to my next meal at Aladdin's and also looking forward to visiting my new friends.
Aladdin's. My new friends, my new favorite place to go. When you're there, if you here someone next to you ordering the Mujadara Plate and the Signature Cake, it's probably me. I'll be back for lunch and I'll be back for dessert. Baklava to go please.