There are plentiful small eateries serving Bosnian pita (also known as burek) in Vienna, but none like Pitawerk. Most skip the atmosphere, and focus on the food. But Pitawerk is making the traditional Balkan bite in a fresh, cute, black-and-white tiled setting, which invites you to stay a while.
While the word ‘pita’ typically connotes fluffy ‘fladenbrot,” here in Vienna, in Balkan country it’s a phyllo pastry pie formed in the pattern of a snail’s shell, and filled with things like meat, potato and cheese.
The smell and the sight of the steaming fresh pastries under Pitawerk‘s counter stirs old, nostalgic memories of my Bosnian home. And the characters at work in the kitchen, making the pitas fresh by hand, make the place feel familiar.
Every time I walk into Pitawerk (which is often, even though it’s relatively newborn) I’m reminiscing about my childhood, about granny feeding her big family with this simple meal, breaking her back over a cloth laid on a big table, or the freshly scrubbed floor. She’d be there always happy to please, while my great-grandmother would hold a vigil should anything go wrong. Or I’m back in my mum’s kitchen on a lazy weekend and she’s baking pita. I can smell the lingering scent of the freshly kneaded dough, the warmth of the oven, and the sound of the water sizzling as it’s poured over freshly baked pita.
In Pitawerk‘s pita-centric menu you´ll find a range of different pitas (say this sentence fast 10 times), all homemade, directly on the spot, every day, filled with potato or meat (or a mix of the two), spinach, apples, or cheese. Meanwhile, the two (semi) young owners, Nadan Hadzibeganovic and Edin Islamovic, are always coming up with new creations. And this creative drive also sums up the story behind how they came to open Pitawerk.
Once the shop space opened up next to the neighbouring coffee shop where they were working, Nadan and Edin decided to put their enterpreneurship to the test and go it alone, baking their homeland’s favourite food.
Alongside several months of redecorating and giving the eatery its shabby-chic, rustic, yet clean look, Nadan went to his hometown, Sarajevo, to work as an apprentice under an old master of the pita. For months he learnt all the family secrets from the elderly man, alongwith a few other elderly ladies. And now he is sharing his wisdom with us in the best way possible – by feeding it to us!
You can even peak through the big glass windows looking into the kitchen and watch Nadan, alongwith with the team, in action. Mind you, do not try it at home, alone and without supervision. You wouldn’t know by looking at them, but making a Bosnian pita is a tough job.
Located at the quiet end of Mariahilfestraße, a 5 minute walk away from the shopping hustle and bustle, Pitawerk is the perfect refuge for people looking to escape the shops, or simply head to for a quick bite to eat.
But you may want to stay a while amidst the bare brick walls and the friendly atmosphere, while listening to old, famous Balkan singer-songwriters – this is a truly unique cultural experience.
And be sure to make like a local and accompany your pita with a glass of yoghurt. Or, if you’re really looking to have the genuine Balkan experience, shoot down a schnapps. It does help the digestion, not to mention the mood. And you can trust that Nadan and Edin, who hail from Bosnia and Herzegovina, are well acquainted with schnapps.