DAVIS SQUARE – One of the best restaurant bargains in Greater Boston boasts incredible French fries, mouth-watering sandwiches, and a toppings bar you’ve got to see to believe.

A bright, fun, and affordable eatery in Davis Square, Somerville, Amsterdam Falafelshop is taking a Middle Eastern sandwich mainstream – thanks to owner Matt D’Alessio. Matt first experienced falafel sandwiches while studying engineering at George Washington University.

“There is a sister store Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgon, Washington, DC,” Matt explained. “As a college student I went to Amsterdam Falafelshop and I fell in love, because being from New Hampshire, I was a little sheltered, if you will. So when I found this falafel place, the vibe, the music, the smells were just so new and exciting to me. Eight years later, here we are.”

“Falafel is very simple,” he said. “You take chickpeas, jalapeno, onions, garlic, parsley, extrude that into a batter, and then deep fry a meatball sized ball in canola oil. You can put a few of those into a pita pocket. And then garnish it with our 25 different sauces and toppings that we make in-house, from scratch every day. When you order your sandwich, you’re going to receive your toasted pita, white or wheat, with the falafels inside of it.”

“Instruction number one is, please crush the balls,” Matt said, straight-faced.

It’s actually essential. The falafel balls are so big, to be able to create some room for your toppings, you have to take your falafel, and crush your balls. Now you have room to top it. There are twenty-five toppings available at the Falafelshop, so anybody can make their perfect falafel.

Dan Andelman of the Phantom Gourmet demonstrated:

    Tahini Sauce: “Adds a little bit of moisture to it all.”

    Hummus: “Nice and creamy. This is kind of like the glue that holds the whole thing together.”

    Fresh Cabbage: “Gotta represent Phantom, go with something purple… Adds a little bit of crispiness, certainly a lot of color.”

    Torator: “Key if you’re a garlic lover. This is super-duper garlicky parsley.You gotta put on a little bit; I like a lot.”

    Pickled Turnips: “I don’t even like turnips, but you gotta put the pickled turnips on your falafel. They’re made right here. “It takes two weeks, and it’s worth the wait.”

While you’re waiting, you can grab a few fritten: authentic Dutch-style French fries that are twice cooked so they’re extra crispy. They are served in a cone that can stand straight-up in the holes that are built right into the tables, and sturdy enough to take a dunk in their special dips, like sweet Dutch mayo and creamy peanut sauce.

“Everything you see here are actual photographs that were taken by the owners of the Washington DC store,” Matt said. “The murals on the wall, this is supposed to mimic a view as if you’re sitting in a coffee shop in Amsterdam, and you’re looking out. So the idea is, yes – you’re in Davis Square, you’re in Somerville, you’re in Boston, but once you step through these doors, you’re in Amsterdam.”

They’ll even let you pay with euros if you’re so inclined, but Matt said it’s a bargain price regardless of the currency.

“You can get in and out of here for $5.30 including tax for a small sandwich, which is a small size pita, 3 falafel balls, and as many toppings from the toppings bar as you can load on there.”

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.



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