The restaurant is named after Urfa, a city in south-eastern Turkey known for what’s called the Urfa biber, or Isot pepper -- a red chile pepper that is traditionally picked, dried out under the sun and then "sweated" at night (covered in fabric or plastic) before being crushed or ground up. Needless to say, it appears in many dishes of the region, and at Urfa Bistro in Los Altos as well.
Urfa is also "deeply rooted in history, so its unique cuisine is an amalgamation of the cuisines of the many civilizations that have ruled in Urfa," the restaurant’s website reads. "Dishes carry names in Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Syrian, and Turkish, and are often prepared in a spicy manner."
Duygu has been in the food industry almost his entire life, from when he was 12 years old in Turkey to opening a fine-dining Italian restaurant in Burlingame in 2001. He went on to open restaurants in San Francisco and Berkeley before making the move to Los Altos. (He said he’s always wanted to open a restaurant in Silicon Valley.) He teamed up with his brother, Memet Duygu, to open the Los Altos restaurant; Memet is Urfa Bistro’s chef.
The menu includes items like oven-roasted lamb ribs served with garlic-yogurt sauce and pita; red lentil soup; chicken, lamb, falafel, salmon, beef and vegetable wraps; moussaka (layers of eggplant, potato and ground beef topped with béchamel sauce and served over rice), among others. A signature dish, Zubi said, is the beyti kebab: ground lamb and beef wrapped in lavash bread, then sliced into pieces and topped with tomato sauce, clarified butter (a traditional Urfa ingredient made from sheep’s milk) and yogurt. View the full menu here.
Most of the wine and beer options are also mostly from Turkey, Zubi said.
The space Zubi and Memet took over at 233 State St. space was formerly occupied by another Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant, Village Kebab.
Urfa Bistro soft opened on Nov. 17 and is planning to ramp up to a full opening in early January, Zubi said. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.