I’ve been really sleeping on this review. I had the pictures ready to go months and months ago. Maybe my subconscious plan was to intentionally wait for everyone else to review it. You can find the Times Union and Gazette reviews online along with all the normal blurb sites. I think, in reality, I just wanted to keep going back and make sure it really is as good as it seems.
So far, so good. It’s one of our two go-to occasion restaurants (Rain Modern Chinese is the other).
Alaturco Mediterranean Grill is pretty straightforward Turkish fare, very well executed. And I think I’ll try to keep this short.
It’s a very industrial looking space that’s been hidden by a nice paint job, clean floors, etc. I want to say there are a dozen or so tables. People are often picking up called-in orders when we’re there as well (we would TOTALLY do this if we were local). The kitchen is open, so you can see what’s going on in there. And hear. Sometimes too much. At times there seems to be quite a bit of yelling going on in there, or at least loud discussing. That said, I’m not sure I ever recall it bothering us.
Service is odd. I think we’ve been to Alaturco at least a half dozen times and I don’t know that we’ve ever had the same server. Maybe once the first couple of times we went last year. The last time I think it was the owner based on other reviews. I do have to speak up in support of the young man that served us on Valentine’s Day. It was the busiest it’s ever been when we were there and I’m pretty sure this dude was on his own. He was moving fast trying to keep up and doing a decent job of it, best one could expect, even refilling water. We actually ended up with entrees before our appetizer showed up but we got it soon enough when we said we still wanted it. Honestly it was fine with us because we sort of nibble on it as we eat our entrees anyway (see below). And he gave us a free dessert to make up for it. Plus ladies were given a rose when finished that evening, which was a nice touch by Alaturco.
I’d like to say we’ve been adventurous, but we sort of keep getting the same thing because they’re so good. I’ve been getting the shish kebab and my wife gets the chicken kebab. Unsurprisingly, they really know how to cook lamb. Both of these have a small salad “garnish” and either rice or bulgur – although now that I refer to the menu and check my memory and photos, we’ve been getting both, as you can see below – in one the rice, with chick peas, is more prominent, in the other the bulgur is facing the camera. I really like the bulgur. I’m such a convert that I’ve started making red bulgur at home in the rice cooker more often than brown or jasmine rice to have with dinner or lunching on leftovers. Mine isn’t as good as that at Alaturco. They mix something in, maybe a touch of tomato sauce and spices? And there’s some pita and a yogurt sauce. You also get warm pita when you’re seated along with some lightly spicy olives (neither of us eats olives, but I tried one, it was OK and I’ve seen others devouring them).
You can see the cute tea cup in the chicken photo, also.
Since we started getting it, we always get the hot medley appetizer, also. We get the finger rolls, falafel, and ‘Try Me Cauliflower’.
Finger rolls are their version of mozzarella sticks, they’re pretty tasty and come with a marinara sauce to dip. The falafel is almost always very good – you falafel eaters probably know what I’m talking about. Falafel is one of those things that just goes wrong so quickly. It takes almost nothing to go from yummy to crumbly dry misfortune. The first time we got it here it was out of this world, moist and tasty. Every time after that it has been at least good, if not as transcendent. Even places that specialize in it seem to have trouble nailing it 100% all the time, it’s just temperamental like that. Here it’s worth trying and comes with more yogurt sauce. I love the Try Me Cauliflower, which is big pieces of fried cauliflower (it’s as good as it sounds – true, I am a big fan of cauliflower to begin with (if only much younger me could hear me say THAT!)). They’re not raw/crisp, not squooshy, but in between perfection. These come with, I believe, lemon juice with some garlic in it served cold. It’s a bit weird to be honest and I often end up dunking into the tomato sauce instead, but it does have a light, refreshing flavor to it – it’s just really tart.
My wife often gets a square of kadayif, which she adores, to take home. She’s more fond of the version she gets at the Armenian Festival, but this is a good substitute when before she could only get it once or twice a year in Watervliet.
The prices are OK, I feel like we’re generally out of there for about $60 all told for the two of us. That includes a dessert, appetizer medley, and a lunch portion left over for each of us, so not bad.
Alaturco is at 2007 Doubleday Ave (west side of Route 50, sort of across from the Aldi, next to a Dunkin’) and is highly recommended. I just read at Table Hopping that Istanblue in Saratoga closed, so if you’re into this cuisine, check out Alaturco. We never got around to trying Istanblue, so I can’t compare, personally. As I think I’ve said before, we love this regional cuisine and really want to see places like this (Persian Bite, for example) succeed and spawn others, instead of sadly watching them fade away (Kabul Night, Afghan Grill – not sure on the status of Afghan Kebab Express in Albany).