The maxim that "Everything tastes better on a stick" is true for everything from corndogs to cat-dogs, so it's only logical that gourmet chow would also benefit from impaling. To verify that theory, hit Pera. Pera's a casually upscale Mediterranean spot whose focal point's an open kitchen harnessing the fire of the gods: a blistering, stone-bottomed furnace that practically flings piping-hot bread right into your mouth, and a ten-foot-long open-flame grill. This sizzling monster cranks out outstanding seafood, but it's at its best when things get stick-y. For starters, there's the mini-shish trio: skewers of marinated lamb, harissa shrimp, and soujouk -- delicious Turkish sausage whose candied taste will compel you to don gold sunglasses and scream, "Snap into a Slim Jim!" The main event's the skewered, hand-ground Angus beef and fresh summer lamb, which the cooks roughly chop into meat and fat bits, then nimbly reconstitute into a perfectly marbled Universal Soldier of Protein. These are available individually, or as part of a massive "tasting journey" that includes the lamb mini-shish, a chicken brochette, seasoned lamb riblets, and a choice of lamb loin or filet mignon medallions -- so pretty, you'll carve your Zodiac sign in one and wear it around your neck. But in the end, it's a stick-free meat -- rolled balls of Beef and Bulghur Tartar -- that might be the restaurant's standout. Because in the end, what good's a stick without balls?
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