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A fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant specializing in Turkish cuisine opened Friday in East Naples. Simit Fresh Mediterranean, from the guys behind Turco Taco, moved into the former space of Two Guys Kitchen & Catering in River Reach Plaza, 1230 Airport-Pulling Road N. 

Simit, a bread ring similar to a bagel, is a popular Turkish street food item, said Yavuz “Oz” Ozturk, an immigrant from Turkey who co-owns Simit restaurant with Ivo Milanoski. 

“What you find in Turkey is a Turkish-style bagel. You see them on every corner in Turkey,” Ozturk said. “So, we use that element, we make it homemade and the breads and everything.”

These breads are the base of sandwiches made with rotisserie meats such as gyro and shawarma-style doner kebab with marinated chicken or a beef and lamb mix. The signature Simit Sandwich features red pepper spread, Turkish sucuk beef sausage, cheese, baby greens, tomato and fries on a simit ring.

The simit is made fresh in-house with other baked goods such as pita bread and somun, a soft and fluffy bread from the Balkans in southeastern Europe. “Everything is fresh like at Turco Taco. We make everything from scratch,” Ozturk said. The cuisine is based on the food the owners grew up with such as bulgur rice and somun.

“Then we do our kefte (meatballs shaped liked sausage links). It’s very famous in Balkans, too. We do it Bosnian style, more like Balkan style.”

Kefte, falafel and traditional doner are choices for the protein in wraps or somun buns. Spreads include traditional hummus, beetroot hummus, tzatziki yogurt-cucumber dip, babaganoush roasted eggplant dip and ajvar, a roasted red pepper dip. “We do a little different preparation than the normal, traditional one,” Ozturk said.

“We also have bowls,” he said. “You can get all this stuff, if you don’t want gluten or bread, you can get it in a bowl.”

All of Simit’s desserts are made in-house, too. Choices include baklava, warm simit with Nutella, and sutlac, which is a Turkish baked rice pudding.

Turco Taco’s business is up 45% over last year, so the owners hope Simit will follow suit, Ozturk said. “Turco is amazing. I feel like this is going to be good, too,” he said.

The new restaurant has about 40 seats for dining in and also provides takeout, delivery and even drive-up pickup.

Simit, 1230 Airport-Pulling Road N., is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays. Its grand opening celebration is Saturday, Jan. 22. Call 239-331-4477 or go to SimitFresh.com.

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