On the final day of my mom and aunt’s visit here in Pittsburgh back in the summer, we had an early lunch before they hit the road to journey home. As my family is always game for ethnic dining, I decided to try a new Middle Eastern restaurant, Naya, which is located in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
Naya is a small eatery located in a popular restaurant row section of the ever bustling Murray Avenue. As we were there at an off-peak time, we were the only diners for a portion of the meal but as the time went on, other people came in. Squirrel Hill is very much a residential community with tons of walkers so it’s definitely the type of place I can see getting quite crowded.
The menu is incredibly extensive but our waitress was extremely sweet and kind in offering suggestions and also being patient as there was much deliberation regarding menu choices. For the table, we split an order of the Small Mezza Platter ($11.99). Mezza are Middle Eastern style tapas/appetizers and ours consisted of feta cheese, black olives, hummus, and baba ghanoush (my personal favorite). This was a perfect size for four people.
All of the entrees at Naya can either be ordered a la carte or as a meal. The meal comes with a small salad, and your choice of either rice pilaf, cous cous, mashed potatoes, fries or hummus.
For my entree, I went with something new, Bamia ($9.99 for the a la carte price, $12.99 for the meal price) which consisted of okra cooked with beef, onions, green peppers that came in a tomato sauce. After making an okra dish a couple of years ago and then getting a dish that had it at a Haitian restaurant in Miami Beach last year, I was happy to order something else with it. I had plenty of leftovers to take home with me.
D ordered the meal version of the Beef Shawarma ($17.99). This is a real favorite of his and he claimed it to be some of the best shawarma he’s ever had. It consists of tender slices of beef that have been cooked in a fragrant sauce and then topped with tahini sauce.
My mom went the lamb route as it’s a personal favorite of hers. She selected the Persian Lamb Shank; this was a shank of lamb stew braised in a sauce of exotic spices and dried fruit. For the a la carte price it was $13.99, $17.99 for the meal.
My aunt opted for the Baked Kibbeh which our waitress explained is a very traditional dish in the Middle East. It comprises a layered mixture of ground beef and cracked wheat that is then stuffed with a a filling of sauteed beef, onions, and spices, and topped with almonds ($12.99 a la carte, $16.99 for the meal). She found the taste to be a bit dry and thought it needed some type of sauce with it.
Dining at Naya is very much supporting a small family run operation and I’m always happy when I can do so. The chef even came out to ask how we enjoyed our meal which to me is a sign they truly do care about their diners. Naya is a wonderful neighborhood eatery and one I would definitely like to try again sometime.
2018 Murray Ave | Pittsburgh, PA | 15217