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Cheap eats

It's amazing how many things you can do with a pita -- or, really, any of the flatbreads that seem to be favorites in every culture for their versatility. At Mr. Pita, the versatile bread appears as a wrap around both cold and warm ingredients ($3.99 for a 7-inch, $4.99 for a 9-inch and $6.49 for a 12-inch), folded like a tortilla in the cutely named "Quesapitas" ($3.99) and even as a pizza crust ($3.99).

This Mr. Pita is the first in the region -- there are a lot of them in Michigan, the counter worker said -- and just a few weeks after opening, it's getting busy. There are several booths, a couple of small tables and a long counter whose chairs look out on Transit Road and Eastern Hills Mall across the street.

There's an emphasis on fresh, healthful choices, and for those whose main interest is plenty of food, there's an all-you-can-eat pita bar from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays for $7.49.

John F., Pat, John and I were there too late to dig into the pita bar, but we sampled several other areas of the menu. Everything was good, and some selections were outstanding.

A bowl ($3.69, $2.99 for a cup) of broccoli-cheese soup was molten and took a good few minutes to cool enough to be tasted, and then got an approving nod for composition and flavor, with plenty of broccoli and a nice cheesy taste.

A personal-size pizza ($3.99) ordered with three meats (pepperoni, ham and bacon, chopped and liberally sprinkled over the sauce and cheese) was unexpectedly good. The pita crust was a bit on the thin side, so those who favor chewy crusts might be disappointed, but the toppings were much better than we expected in a sandwich place.

The chicken Quesapita was full of chopped peppers and melted cheese, with a bit less diced chicken than some might want, but it was flavorful and piping hot. The round pita was filled, folded in half and sliced into three parts, and the middle section was almost impossible to eat neatly. A fork helped out, though.

We sampled the Veggie pita, made with Swiss, feta, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, black olives, pepper rings and an unusual and slightly tangy house dressing. Everything was fresh, and while the 7-inch pita was not overstuffed, it was an excellent value for just $3.99. A roast beef pita, the same size at the same price, included tender beef.

Premier pitas are priced slightly higher, at $4.29 for small, $5.29 for medium and $6.99 for large. A Supreme Pita, made with turkey, roast beef, ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing, didn't seem to have much more meat in it than the cheaper roast beef pita.

We didn't try any salads, and there are some interesting ones, all for $5.29 -- antipasto, Greek, tuna salad and chicken Caesar.

-- Anne Neville

***

Mr. Pita

7500 Transit Road, Amherst

204-8065

Review: 3 pennies (Out of 4)

"Fresh and tasty."

Mr. Pita is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. except for Sunday, when it is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is handicapped-accessible.

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