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It’s A Wrap Fresh Pita Grill

Good, healthy Middle Eastern food and you can try something different every time you come back

Posted: April 29, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2011 6:00 a.m.

A chicken kabob plate ($8.99) features tender chicken breast chunks and your choice of two sides, including French fries, salad, rice and hummus.

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Back in the day, when I briefly worked as a secretary in Hollywood, I frequented a place called Zankou Chicken. Famous for its fantastic grilled chicken and awe-inspiring garlic sauce, Zankou Chicken was my (and many others) go-to place for Middle Eastern/Armenian food.

The Santa Clarita Valley finally has its Zankou Chicken equivalent in It's A Wrap Fresh Pita Grill, opened in March by first-time restaurateur Haig Semerjian.

"I'm Armenian and I grew up in the San Fernando Valley," said Semerjian, a Woodland Hills resident. "My uncle lives here and told me there weren't a lot of these types of restaurants, so I decided to go for it. We've done really good so far."

That's because this modest fast-casual spot, located in the former Cupid's space on McBean Parkway, focuses on the details that make foodies salivate.

To start, It's A Wrap only uses the freshest USDA choice meats, including filet mignon for its beef kabob (plate $9.99, pita $5.99 or wrap $6.99) and a special type of lamb.

"Our lamb is halal," Semerjian said. "I know that means a lot to some people."

It's A Wrap also makes its incredible array of sauces (tahini, tzatzaki, garlic) from scratch every day and features recipes dating back to Semerjian's childhood.

"My mom and grandma taught me how to make these dishes and my dad comes by and helps me out a lot," Semerjian said. "I like to cook and I like to eat, so I know good food and what makes me go back to a restaurant. That's what I try to give here."

Semerjian succeeds with an exemplary lineup of dishes ranging from chicken shawarma ($7.99) and beef and lamb gyros ($8.99) to Greek and tabouli salads ($3.99 to $9.49, when adding kabob toppings) and sides such as hummus, grape leaves and hummus ($2.99 to $4.99).

A vegetarian plate ($7.99) combines many satisfying, savory elements: three large, crunchy, herb-packed falafel discs atop a fluffy bed of long-grain rice; tangy, dense grape leaves stuffed with rice, veggies, walnuts and spices; a stellar, mousse-like hummus served with fresh pita to scoop it up with; and a vibrant Greek salad tossed with a light vinaigrette, briny pitted Kalamata olives and delightfully pungent feta cheese.

If this sounds like a lot of food, it is. It's A Wrap does not skimp on portions.

The chicken breast kabob plate ($8.99) features large, un-skewered chunks of tender, succulent breast meat, perfectly marinated and grilled, and is served with your choice of sides: rice, French fries, warm pita and two of the following: salad, hummus or muttabal.

The latter, a smooth grilled eggplant dip similar to baba ghanouj, is absolutely divine, with its rich, smoky, garlicky notes.

All meats (there are lamb, beef lule and chicken lule kabobs, too, from $8.99 to $10.99) are served with your choice of sauce. If you're a fan of the bulb, I suggest you pick the garlic sauce. This is the sauce of a garlic lover's dreams: smooth, creamy, aromatic and downright delectable once it melts into meat of any kind.

Garlic sauce is great with the falafel, too, should vegetarians feel left out, or can be used as an awesome dipping sauce with the thin-cut, crispy French fries (a side of garlic sauce is 20 cents).

All of the plate options are available as a pita ($4.99-$6.49) or a wrap sandwich ($5.75-$7.49), if you're looking for something lighter or more portable.

It's A Wrap has a fun, modern vibe, with its white, black and red tiled interior, shiny black tables and chairs and stainless steel open kitchen, where you can watch your meal being prepared. A patio offers al fresco dining, weather permitting, and is ideal for people watching at the busy strip mall location.

Guests order off the overhead menu and the servers bring the food to you, which is a considerate, welcome touch.
Semerjian, who graduated from University of Southern California with a business degree, wants to open more It's A Wrap Fresh Pita Grills once he gets his first location perfected.

"I plan to make it big, but keep the quality," he said. "This is really good, healthy food. People can try something different every time they come back."

It's A Wrap Fresh Pita Grill, 27051 McBean Parkway, Suite 101, Valencia. Open 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Monday - Saturday and 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday. Outside catering and party platters available. (661) 287-4500.


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