photo credit: Emily Schindler
Omar's Fine Cuisine
At Omar’s Fine Cuisine in Prospect Heights, a single string of Christmas lights outside invites you to enter a fluorescent-lit, tile-floored room that looks like it used to be your everyday pizza shop. It still is, technically.
Inside, you can get Indian food, pizza, and bagels made fresh every day. We can feel your skepticism burning through the screen, so let’s get right to the verdict: The Indian food is incredible, the dense and chewy bagels are worth a morning pitstop, and they have great Indian fusion pizza—a rare find—on the menu.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Omar’s has some of the best straightforward, no-frills Indian food not just in Prospect Heights, but in the whole city. If you don’t know where to start, lead with the breads. Get the gobi paratha that's stuffed with shredded cauliflower and given a shoe-shine with Indian butter, or order the smoky goat chettinad and scoop up the gravy with some properly charred, chicken-stuffed Bombay tikka naan. Someone back there has superb skills with dough, and, once you taste that mastery, the bagels and pizza will make more sense.
Even by New York's impossible standards, Omar's halal pepperoni slices aren't too shabby—but the pizzas worth hopping on a train for are their Indian fusion ones. The chicken tikka pie is as much of a stoner’s delight as it sounds like, but it's not too heavy or full of cream, and the tawa vegetable version adds a much-needed masala kick to your usual vegetarian pizza.
This is a crew that proves themselves to be master multitaskers every time we visit. Even their bagels pass the test (you know the one), and the menu has sandwiches, wraps, and buffalo wings as well. If there were a prize for most useful restaurant in the neighborhood, this one would be a worthy contender. As an added bonus, it’s also pretty damn good.
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Mixed Meat Biryani
One of our favorite dishes on the menu. Generous amounts of chicken and lamb are mixed in with sparkly grains of perfectly seasoned rice that tastes and looks fit for a royal.
Omar's does a great job with seafood. We like the shrimp poori appetizer, which comes with a huge, crispy poori paired with shrimp sitting in a tangy tomato curry (as an alternative to the chaana masala more commonly served with poori).
Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza
This could have easily been a heavy pizza with an overwhelming amount of cream and cheese, but they keep it balanced enough for you to function even if you order it in the middle of the day. Your other Indian pizza options are muglia, butter chicken, mirchi, meatwala, and tawa vegetable.
The beef pepperoni on this pizza is halal, and though the crust is thicker than your standard New York slice, we like that it's dense (and perfect for dipping into all gravies). You can get this pie by the slice throughout the day.
Bombay Tikka Naan
When you can't handle the chicken tikka pizza or a full curry, get this mild (and way less messy) chicken tikka-stuffed naan instead. It's a very tasty to-go lunch and pairs great with a lassi.
This tender goat tastes throughly marinated, like its been simmering in the sauce for hours.
Eating this brightly-colored chicken is both fun and delicious. It gets its color after being cooked in a green paste made of green chili, corriander leaves, and mint. Don't forget to squeeze some lime on top. (You can also get paneer instead of chicken.)
These fish and potato cutlets have a flavorful, crispy garam masala crust, and they're the perfect vehicles for various chutneys.
We like to get a side of yogurt to dip this masala-spiced bread in. Ask the shop to add green chiles to the mix for some extra (and we mean extra) kick.
Omar’s knows that, even with an excellent goat chettinad on the menu, a bad bagel purveyor will get run out of town (we do, after all, have a reputation to uphold around here). These bagels can definitely stay.