Tag Archives: Gazala Place
My search for the best falafel in New York continues….
Gazala Place in Hell’s Kitchen (and its bigger, newer location on the Upper West Side) is the only place in New York to get Druze cuisine. The Druze are a religious people that live throughout the Middle East and have a fairly distinct cuisine. The most notable difference is their very large and thin pita breads cooked on a griddle called a sagg.
I’ve enjoyed many delicious meals at Gazala Place and am especially fond of all their breads and savory pies. On a recent meal, I paid special attention to their falafel, which was served as part of their appetizer sampler platter alongside hummus and labneh.
I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
NUMBER 60: DUMPLINGS at WHITE BEAR
All the dumplings I tasted out in Flushing (the Chinatown of Queens) were stellar, but the best version I had was at an unassuming little storefront that used to be an ice cream shop (and still has signs for it!). White Bear serves up my favorite dumplings in the city.
And while most reviewers and eaters go ga-ga over the #6 (the wontons with hot sauce), I preferred the simplicity of the #19. The moist filling was full of complex, diverse flavors and textures: crunchy Chinese cabbage, meaty pork, and spicy ginger. The wrappers were the softest and most tender I had sampled. It almost didn’t even need the soy vinegar that they’re served with. The #6 were also pretty darn tasty, but I recommend coming here with some friends and trying as many different varieties as possible.
|135-02 Roosevelt Avenue (entrance on Prince Street between Roosevelt and 40th Road)
NUMBER 59: PIEROGIES at LOMZYNIANKA
You can get pierogies from almost any corner in Greenpoint. While the young hipsters are moving in, the Polish community is not going anywhere. My favorite of these Polish restaurants (I’ve not been to all of them) is Lomzynianka, which resides on the main drag of Manhattan Avenue. The food is affordable, hearty, and authentic.
I liked this place so much that I brought a tour group by one Saturday. I was hired to customize a food tour of Brooklyn and this was a must-stop. We got a tasting of their pierogies and all the different stuffings (including potato, mushroom and sauerkraut, and beef) are delicious, but I really love the Farmer’s Cheese. This is not made from the milk of a farmer, but instead a sweet cow’s milk not too dissimilar to cottage cheese. The rich sweetness of the stuffing is cut by the crunchy, greasy dough wrapper which is topped with beautifully caramelized onions. A side of sour cream adds some cooling tang. Price: $5.50
|646 Manhattan Avenue (between Bedford Avenue and Norman Avenue)
NUMBER 58: HOUSEMADE RICOTTA RAVIOLI at ABC KITCHEN
Of all the things I tasted at ABC Kitchen, I’m sort of shocked that the dish I keep coming back to were the ravioli. I only had a taste of them since somebody else at the table ordered them, but I was surprised at the brightness and sweetness to this rather ordinary sounding dish.
The plump ravioli were stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese and topped with parmesan and herb oil. Underneath was a complex, but light tomato sauce. These flavors are rather obvious and traditional, but here they were elevated to something fresh and delicious. And that’s why I can’t stop thinking about a bite of someone else’s dish. Price: $15 (appetizer)/$23 (entree)
|35 East 18th Street (between Broadway and South Park Avenue)
NUMBER 57: BUREKA at GAZALA PLACE
Ever heard of Druze food? I hadn’t either until my first visit to Gazala Place some years ago. Druze is actually a religious group that primarily reside in the Middle East, with Israeli, Syrian, and Lebanese influences. The food is easier to classify as Middle Eastern. And the only place I know of that serves this speciality cuisine in the city is Gazala Place, which now has two locations.
The rotating list of fillings is always encased by a rich, buttery bun made of browned flaky phyllo dough. The sesame seed crusted pie falls apart in tender delicious bites. I’m partial to the sundried tomato and goat cheese stuffed boureka which has a savory sweetness that makes me want to learn more about Druze food.
|709 Ninth Avenue (between 48th and 49th Street)
|380 Columbus Avenue (between 77th and 78th Street)
Upper West Side
NUMBER 56: VARENIKI “KUBAN” at CAFE GLECHIK
Whenever I travel anywhere, I make it worth my stomach’s while. So when I took the trip out to Coney Island one afternoon, I figured I’d better get in all the eating I could. And since the Russian-Ukranian neighborhood of Brighton Beach was just a few blocks away, I knew I’d be having a taste of Eastern Europe. But I’m never content just sampling one thing, so before the main course of a gutbomb chicken tabka at Kebeer, I visited nearby Cafe Glechik for an appetizer of Russian dumplings.
This place is known for the varniki, which are smaller and more delicate than pierogies. I chose the Kuban, which houses mozzarella cheese and is topped with a gorgeous amount of my favorite herb, dill. They knew how to win me over. An order comes with about 20 of these almost bite-sized dumplings. They were so tender and pleasant that it was practically impossible to not finish the entire plate. Price: $8.50
|3159 Coney Island Avenue (between Brighton Beach Avenue and Brighton 10th Street)
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
|1655 Sheepshead Bay Road (between Jerome Avenue and Voorhies Avenue)
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn