Taste of Lebanon

MVPita in Northeast Mesa relies on a mother’s recipes
by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Siblings Christian and Michelle Warde are paying tribute to their mom the best way they know how: through food.
MVPita – at the southwest corner of Power and Brown roads – serves fresh Mediterranean food like salads, hummus and, of course, pitas, using their mother’s recipes.
“Our mom has always wanted to own a restaurant,” Christian says. “This is authentic Lebanese cuisine all from our mom’s recipes.”
Their mother, Tania Warde, still resides in Illinois, from where the siblings moved three years ago.
“She’s trying to move out here,” he says. “We just want to set this up and get everybody on their feet. Tears come to her eyes when we talk about her restaurant.
“See, our mom was the main person in the kitchen at home. My favorite part was the dolmas.”
Dolmas have ingredients like meat and spiced rice wrapped in vine or cabbage leaves.
“She used to stuff them with meat, rice and spice,” Christian continues. “Over here, they’re vegetarian style. It was my favorite thing growing up. Everybody loves to cook and eat in our family. Unfortunately, we opened the restaurant away from the family.”
One of MVPita’s top sellers is the gyro pita, a shaved mixture of lamb and beef cooked on a rotisserie ($6.49).
“Everything is good here,” Christian quickly adds about MVPita. “Customers can pick multiple proteins instead of just one. It’s tough on the kitchen, but the kitchen is hard working and we like to work together to knock out orders.”
Christian and Michelle are 28 and 24, respectively. Christian refers to them as a “young family who’s looking to strive.”
“We thought if the food was good, the people would come,” he says. “That’s how we looked at it. We started a new chapter in life moving to Arizona.”
The food at MVPita isn’t just about Lebanon. Its cheeseburger – a burger topped with gyro meat, both marinated in house – has won numerous awards.
But Lebanese food is where it’s at, he says.
“We have gyros for $3.99 Mondays and Tuesdays, which is a sweet deal for people trying to save money,” he says. “We’re trying to become the $5 gyro spot every day. Our prices are probably the best prices in town. They’re very reasonable. You get a lot of bang for fresh, quality food.”