5155 S. Main, Sylvania 43560
Kid-friendly: Best suited for older children
To avoid wait: Anytime
Noise level: Quiet
Bathroom amenities: No public restroom…employee restroom available
High chairs: No
Got milk? No. Canned pop, lemonade, and bottled water.
Food allergy concerns: You can speak directly to the owner, Zane, who will most likely be the one preparing your meal. They do not have any peanut oil in the restaurant, and each pita/bowl is made to order, so just let them know in advance about any allergies.
I love Lebanese food. No. Let me rephrase. I LOVE Lebanese food. I’m so thankful my children appreciate it as well because when I have a hankering for hummus, grape leaves and all that pure deliciousness, I am never met with resistance. We followed a friend’s recommendation, and came upon traditional Lebanese served with a contemporary twist.
Another hidden gem
I shall not lie. When pulling up to the most humble of humble looking store fronts in a strip plaza in Sylvania, I had some serious doubts. I did it again. I was judging by appearances. I should know better by now. The owner of Pitasub Express, Zane Ismail, is very proud of the fact that he serves only healthy, freshly made food and that nothing is fried.
Mr. Ismail promptly greeted us from behind the counter as he was busy cooking up something that smelled delectable. A quick glance told me this was more of a carryout kind of place rather than sit down. Mr. Ismail confirmed that about 90% of his business is carryout. Not being around the corner from our home in Holland, however, we were there to stay. In the mean time we saw several others come in and grab their pick-up orders.
Mr. Ismail…..no, I’m going to call him Zane because we entered his restaurant as strangers but left as friends. Zane truly has a way of making people feel welcome. He moved here from Lebanon when he was 16 years old, so he considers Toledo his hometown. He has been in the restaurant business almost 40 years, and has owned Pitasub Express for about seven years. “I’m happy I work here every day,” said Zane. You might also see his sons working with him as well.
Lebanese meets Chipotle style
Pretty much that is how Zane summed up Pitasub for us. He handed us a little paper and a pen for us to select our choices. Like Chipotle restaurants where you select your protein and then all the extras you want in your “bowl” or burrito, the same is true for Pitasub, except it’s Lebanese food and you make a “bowl” or stuff a pita! Almost two years ago Zane’s son suggested switching to the Chipotle style and it appears to have won over his customers.
You can choose from chicken, steak, gyro meat or go vegetarian. Then select brown or yellow rice and choice of vegetables. Top it off with one of their several homemade sauces such as traditional cucumber sauce, or garlic sauce. Zane said his Lebanese salsa is out of this world. I know I need to make a trip back because I also forgot to try the Baklava!
The boys and I chose bowls and because we just couldn’t decide on which meat, Zane surprised us with a little gyro meat AND chicken in each of our bowls. I still can’t decide which I liked better. They don’t have a kids’ menu, but Zane made up the $6.99 bowls for $5 for each of the boys. We also ordered hummus and grape leaves. I have said in the past that I am a hummus snob and must try it wherever it’s offered. It was delish. Zane raved about the falafel and a regular customer came in for it for the third time that week while we were there. “I think I’m the only one who doesn’t fry it,” said Zane.
It was a bit chilly in the seating area on that blustery evening. Zane was quick to come out and turn up the heat for us; checking back to make sure we were warm enough. He also surprised me with some complimentary herbal tea. It was quite unique and obvious he knew what he was doing with that as well.
We purposely left a little in our bowls so we could have it again the next day. And before we packed up our hummus to take home for my daughter to try, he topped us off. We came in as strangers, and certainly left as friends.
Bottom Line: Zane Ismail will make you feel welcome in his restaurant and takes great pride in his fresh, healthy cooking. Though not the most ideal for eating in with very young ones in tow, it is a must try for carryout or eating in with older children. If your kids enjoy Lebanese cuisine or you’re looking for a fun way to introduce it to them, they will enjoy making their own selections and the bowls will be a hit.
Karen Zickes is a mom of three active children and freelance writer who resides in Holland, OH. She can be reached in c/o