When in my City, Make Sure to Go to Sitti

Being a parent has caused something to happen that I thought would never happen, not in a million years. Yet we let it happen.  What did we let happen? As a person who likes to talk about travel, I’m almost to embarrassed to tell you.  But we have no secrets here. 

Get ready to gasp. 

We let our passports expire.  Yes, it’s true.  No flying off to another country on a whim for us.  Not any time soon, anyway.  The demands of parenthood caused our passports’ expiration dates to go unnoticed in our top bedroom drawer.

Just as well. My husband isn’t too fond of traveling with small kids anyway.  As soon as we got one child big enough to be easier on trips, we had another one.  And I’m an unemployed stay-at-home mom who no longer contributes to our travel fund. No matter what, the results are still the same. We have expired passports, and instead of globetrotting, we spend more time enjoying beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina.

We have a really good time in our own city, and, honestly, I sometimes approach life as if I’m on vacation. I love nights when I schedule a sitter and we transport ourselves to another part of the world by eating a certain cuisine.  It’s like being on vacation without the hassle of actually getting there.
Image from Sitti Restaurant

Lately, I’ve become quite fond of Lebanese food or, more importantly, downtown Raleigh’s Sitti Restaurant, located on Wilmington Street.

I love the fact that it is in an old Raleigh furniture store.  I love its vibe, and it has caused me to fall in love with Mediterranean cuisine.

We recently went to Sitti with longtime friends.  We go way back with this couple.  He grew up with my husband, and we introduced my best friend to him.  They are now my daughter’s godparents.   

We don’t see them as often as we would like.  You know, life gets in the way, but when we’re together it’s like old times.

This was their first trip to Sitti, and I’m not sure who raved about our meal more, them or me.  My husband loved it, too, but he’s the quiet one of the bunch.

I told Sylvia that no matter what she did, she had to order a salad. I feel that Sitti salads totally tantalize the taste buds with freshness.  I tried the Village salad this time, with diced feta, cucumber, tomato, Kalmata olives, red onion, and green peppers in sumac vinaigrette.  It was a cool burst of flavor in every bite.

The Goat Cheese and Orange Salad wowed her.  My husband doesn’t like change as much.  He fell in love with the Tomato Mozzarella Salad on our last visit, so he wanted it again. 

The chef wanted us to try the Sitti tasting, which was a wide assortment of Mediterranean specialties.  It was great because when you go to a restaurant like this, there are so many items on the menu.  If you aren’t used to eating Lebanese cuisine, then it may be difficult to know what you like in the beginning.  I was a little overwhelmed on my first visit.  The winner on this plate, for me, was the cheese sticks.  I’m going to rename them “heaven in a pancake.”  The cheese rolls are a mix of Grueyre, feta, mint, and spices, rolled into paper-thin pancakes then deep-friend.  Take my word for it.  Don’t worry about the calories.  Just eat them! And eat lots.  They are that good. The entire plate is spectacular, and it’s a good assortment of some of Sitti’s most popular dishes.

My husband and I also shared delicious goat cheese stuffed peppers.  

Are you keeping track of my calorie intake?  I certainly wasn’t that evening. I was on an ethnic-food vacation where my passport was not needed, yet I felt that I had been transported out of Raleigh.  In an hour’s time, I tasted the most finely ground hummus, homemade pita bread, the Sitti tasting, a salad, the goat-cheese stuffed peppers, all before my entrée arrived.  I thought I was going to pop before even setting my eyes on my gorgeous Filet Kabob.

It’s funny because you knew who was married to whom just by looking at the orders.  We ordered Filet Kabobs, and our friends both wanted to try the Seabass, which was pan-seared with shitake mushrooms, tomato broth, garlic confit and white truffle polenta.  They loved it and ate every bite.

One thing you need to do at Sitti is leave room for dessert.  We didn’t do a very good job of that, as you can tell, but our waiter told us that the dessert, Ashta, which is a mixture of layers of phyllo dough, milk pudding, bananas, honey, and pistachio would be the lightest choice. 

Four forks and one dessert later, our dining trip to Lebanon was complete.  I can’t wait to travel there again.  The best part of all is that it takes me less than 15 minutes to get there.

Want to Go: Sitti is located at 137 S. Wilmington Street, Raleigh, N.C.  It’s open seven days a week.

Disclosure: We went to this restaurant unsolicited.  We paid for our own meals, however, we did receive some dishes complimentary..  As always, my opinions are my own, and are not influenced by the company or brand. 

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