Memorable | One of the Best
Al Amir Bakery
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Al Amir Bakery is a bakery of Lebanese flatbreads. You could call them pizzas, but Al Amir doesn’t, and Italians might scoff at the thought. They’re round like pizzas, baked in a open-fire oven like pizzas, and many of the variations are topped with white cheese, so they look an awful lot like pizzas. There are important differences though. There is no tomato sauce in the house, and the flavors lean towards Lebanon. Also, they’re a bargain compared to anything calling itself a pizza in Southern California.
Precision baking is the key. Flatbreads emerge from the oven beautifully bronzed, their circumference chewy like a bialy. The crust exhibits occasional blistering and a dark bottom from the oven floor. There is a sweet pita-like twinge to the dough. Those with cheese are topped with a blend that tastes like mozzarella boosted with saltier white cheese to add Mediterranean funk.
The za’atar and cheese variation is classically Mediterranean, a thin layer of za’atar and olive oil slurry rubbed on in place of sauce. Its spices are gritty on the dough: we like the aggressive herbal character they contribute. Of all the breads, the most ambitious and adventurous is a cornucopia of dried yogurt, pomegranate molasses, pine nuts, and cinnamon on the lahamajun like sfeeha flatbread. It is intriguingly sour but slightly overloaded and soggy. Chicken chipotle flatbread with a mildly spicy, smoky pepper spread and chopped chunks of marinated chicken breast is a combination that resembles BBQ chicken pizza. It seems out of place on the otherwise Middle-Eastern flavored menu, but it we appreciate having an oddball Occidental option.
What to eat at Al Amir Bakery
Our favorite thing to eat: the sojouk flatbread. It has a thin layer of spicy meat sausage as the lone topping on a golden crust. The musty sausage is all the base crust needs, its grease acting as a sauce, the meat flavorful enough to make it complete.
All flatbreads are available as minis packed in boxes perfect for road snacking. We got a box of the mini spinach triangles, baked fresh to order. These are filled with fresh juicy spinach marinated in lemon juice and seasoned with warming, aromatic spices: unusually flavorful for spinach pies.
Al Amir Bakery opens for breakfast and serves a flavorful interpretation of foul, the fava bean paste of champions. Usually foul is a bland gruel meant to provide protein-rich, starchy morning nourishment; but at Al-Amir it’s zippy with lemon juice and garlic and heartily sprinkled with whole fava beans. It comes shimmering with quality olive oil floating on top and is served with puffy, baked-to-order pita.
Directions & Hours
|Seasons||Summer, Winter, Spring|
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|