If the jam-packed Sfoglia up the street is any indication, denizens of Carnegie Hill are desperate for good food and cozy surroundings. The month-old Peri Ela delivers on both accounts, with its snug, wood-paneled, tin-ceilinged space filling up each night with locals lugging their own bottles of wine (until the license arrives) and tucking into platters of Turkish meze and kebabs.
Owners Silay and Jill Ciner named the spot after their two daughters and have installed an all-Turkish kitchen crew. With only 35 seats and a bar, the onetime diner does get crowded, and so do the tables, especially when littered with multiple meze (creamy cacik, tangy bean salads, springy grape leaves, and several worthy eggplant variations) and a kebab or two. Our go-to Turkish litmus test, the yogurtlu kebab, was suitably rich and delicious, if portioned more for delicate Manhattan appetites than robust Gravesend ones, its succulent slices of well-done lamb arrayed over pita croutons drenched with thick, garlicky yogurt and tomato sauce. A very welcome addition, and let's hope the beginnings of a new restaurant row. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld
Peri Ela, 1361 Lexington Ave., nr. 90th St.; 212-410-4300