Back home in Australia, a night out with friends wasn’t complete without stopping off for pide (pron. PEE-teh). For those unfamiliar with this Turkish dish, it is an oval shaped unleaven bread with various fillings, such as cheese and meat as well as spices, tomatoes and onions, baked inside. Depending on the size, it can be a snack or a meal and makes for an interesting alternative to pizza.
But where to find it in Prague?
My first bit of luck was at Istanbul Kebab at 13 Opletalova, Prague 1 I found what I was looking for. Hurray! Well sort of. The pides they sell are pre-prepared. Sure, the meat filling was tasty and at 89 CZK, it was an inexpensive and filling lunch. But it was not quite the same as a pide fresh from the oven, so my search continued.
Pre-made pide was the continuing theme in the few other places I found. Istanbul Kebab’s second restaurant at 6 Na Poříčí, Prague 1 has two varieties – meat and cheese. At 60 CZK, they’re even better value that at the other place. On the downside, the pide is heated on the grill, so while the pastry shell is hot, the filling is tepid at best. As a quick snack this pide is fine, but it was nothing to get excited over.
Karlin Food at 62 Sokolovska, Prague 8 offered the best of the pre-prepared at 59 CZK. The pastry was light and not dry and the cheese, egg and herb filling was tastiest by far. Also, they at least heated theirs in a pizza oven, so the inside was warm too. But I was looking for pide, so hot that when served it would scold the roof of my mouth.
Mangal Restaurant is a newly opened, swanky Turkish restaurant at the top of Wenceslas Square (number 64 to be precise). And yes, they do pide. It was as if the food gods had answered my prayers.
But the food gods are a fickle bunch. On one hand, the range here is better. The restaurant offers three varieties: kiymali pide (160 CZK), which has a lamb and beef mincemeat filling; kasarli pide (100 CZK), which contains tomato and cheese, and lastly kasarli sucuklu pide (110 CZK), which is the same as the one before, except with sausage too.
I ordered the kiymali pide. The spices in the kiymali pide, overpowered the taste of the lamb a little too much for my liking. However, the portions were a decent size and would make a sizable meal for one, or something to share with friends. And it was the freshest I could find.
Or so I thought.
One of the first restaurants I asked at was Barakat at 28 Opletalova (no website). On that day, the manager said they didn’t have pide on the menu but the chef would do it the next time he was in. So I returned to find the chef was in and willing to make my pide to order.
The wait was worth it. The pide, while not as authentic as the other two places was piping hot. The cheese, steaming and stringing, slopped onto the plate. There was easily enough for two people and at 120 CZK, it was a fair price. I’ll definitely go back and try to see if the chef will make another.