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Let’s face it, everyone has a list.
You’re out with friends, chatting with colleagues, discussing the day with your significant other. Someone says, “Hey, you know a place we should try?” What follows is added to your mental list of places you should visit.
It can be a restaurant, specialty store, salon — anywhere, really.
Shawarma Palace may be on your list, and maybe it should be. This Middle Eastern restaurant lives up to the rock-star reviews it has received online.
At the site of a former A&D Coffee and Lunch Express, Shawarma Palace is a wonderful place to grab a bite to eat — if you can find a place to sit.
Hidden? Perhaps not so much.
Owner Charlie Dalli opened in July 2014 after buying the business from a friend and spending four months renovating. Starting the business was serendipity, said Dalli’s son Rami, a 2015 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross who is working here during the summer. The opportunity presented itself.
Charlie’s cheery disposition, which could be considered almost jovial, lights up the place.
On this day, he’s working with Rami and a friend. Charlie’s other children — Ryan, 19, and Deanna, 16 — also pitched in at the beginning.
We ordered a chicken shawarma sandwich (you really think we’d order anything else at a place named Shawarma Palace?), baklava and Polar lemon seltzer. The seltzer was the recommendation of a frequent customer, who said the citrus flavor “works” with the flavors of the chicken shawarma. Agreed.
The food far surpassed expectations of a “lunch spot.” The sandwich and baklava are first-rate. The combination of delicious food and convivial atmosphere explains why more than half of the customers who arrived during our time there are frequent or regular visitors.
We spoke with Charlie after we finished eating. He doesn’t advertise; his success is all the result of positive word of mouth. “I am very amazed and grateful,” he said.
In addition to extending his hours to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, Dalli expanded into catering. In fact, he said, “I have a job tomorrow.” That makes for long hours since he does a majority of the cooking.
A veteran of 15 years in the retail jewelry business and two years of helping run another shawarma shop in the city, Dalli knows how to engage customers. As he speaks of a frequent customer, he breaks from the conversation. “Here she is now,” he says. And he’s off.
Middle Eastern restaurant
3 Pleasant St.
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
Closed Sunday (Editor’s note: C’mon!)
As of Saturday, it has perfect five-star ratings on Facebook (20 reviews), Yelp (13) and Google+ (1), and a rating of four and half on TripAdvisor (2).