For years Layla (see site here) has been a family owned restaurant specializing in Italian food, with a reputation focused on mediocrity. Only recently, with the kids in the family now grown and wanting to get involved, did they revamp the whole thing and draw closer to their roots specializing in middle easter cuisine. And, I think, the change was a good one.
The atmosphere had the mark of professional design, with wall sized mirrors maximizing the sense of space in an otherwise small eating area along with tasteful modern/urban lighting.
Katie and I both ordered our go-to dishes for Mediterranean restaurants "from the grill:" chicken shawarma and kafta (both $8). We also ordered a side of the zaatar herb flatbread ($5) as recommended by our waitress (who was excellent, along with the rest of the staff).
Before our appetizer arrived, we were each presented with a plain white dinner roll and foil wrapped tablet of butter. Nice, but not Mediterranean. We both thought that flatbread would have been much more appropriate, which arrived as our ordered appetizer. This particular appetizer, the zaatar, consisted of a pita warmed with a thick layer of dry spices on top. It was good, but very dry. I would improve it by drizzling it with olive oil, or offering it with a cup of their tahini sauce for dipping.
The entrées came served in a lavash wrap (a bread not much thicker than a tortilla), with pickled turnips and a mix of fresh tomatoes and greens. Both were very satisfying, well portioned, and well presented. I would say they hit the nail square on the head with the mix of flavors.
We decided to try a "bird's nest" baklava ($3), rose ice cream, and pistachio ice cream (both $1.50) for dessert even though we were both full and satisfied. The baklava was cut open to make a nest of sorts, and filled with candied pistachios. It was just the right size and had the perfect balance of chewy and crunchy... awesome. Katie somewhat liked the rose ice cream which she said was a good palate cleanser, refreshing, and different. I thought it was like spraying rose scented perfume in my mouth chasing it down with a shot of liquid soap. My reaction was so bad Katie had to tell me to behave. I did enjoy the pistachio ice cream.
Overall it was a positive experience. We would definitely go there again. The food was well priced, hot, and tasty. We even got a personal visit from the owner to make sure we were satisfied.