214 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012
Incorporating the Mediterranean dish inspirations of her well-respected Taim restaurant, Israeli chef-owner Einat Admony adds Middle Eastern cuisine to her resume in her newly-opened Nolita sit-down spot, Balaboosta.
Balaboosta - meaning, in Yiddish, "the perfect housewife" - is an altar, of sorts, to the domestic goddesses that have inspired thought and creativity in kitchens throughout history. Admony, for example, has a portrait of her aunt Hana hanging on one of the walls, watching over diners and bestowing her approval on her niece's success. According to Admony, Hana "always had ten pots on the stove." Other domiciliary accents to expect: a bookshelf stacked with cookbooks written by women, picture frames of notable females, and other kitchen-y knick knacks.
More than just what's stocked on the bookshelf, the at-home feeling that this restaurant exudes exercises itself in a long communal dining table, a front counter with bar stools and modest drapery hanging on the windows - all of the homey feel, but without the responsibility of washing dishes. And if you were one to watch your mother (or whomever) prepare and cook meals, the glass façade separating the kitchen from the sidewalk will help you revisit that child-like allure as you're passing by the restaurant and, hopefully, invite you in to taste the savory samplings of both the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, while dabbling fickly in Italy and Spain.
Having had experience in the kitchens of restaurants like Patria, Bolo, Tabla and Danube, it's with creative ambition that she tackles this Eastern-hemisphere-inspired menu. Preparing to court the hunger all the way to the entrees, the appetizer selection boasts options like Dave's Grilled Pizza ($11), sparking the tastebuds with ingredients like carrot puree, caramelized onions, goat cheese and cilantro, or the Honeydew & Cantaloupe Gazpacho ($9) mixed with jicama-mint relish and almond brittle.
Photo By Melissa Hom of New York Magazine
The "shared plates" section of Balaboosta's menu is for diners who want to share their starters with their guests. Some worthy eye-grabbers from here include the Taim Falafel Wrapped Meatballs ($9) that combine Taim's famous falafels with an updated spurt of green tahini sauce, or the Red Quinoa Salad ($8) that's sprinkled in bits of dried cranberries, fresh, biting herbs and spritzes of fresh lemon. Are you an unadulterated olive enthusiast like myself? Order the Fried Olives ($5) and enjoy their soft, golden-brown, crispy shells plopped in a pool of creamy labne cheese and harissa oil (salt lovers say wha?).
But enough of this foreplay! You came here to EAT, not frolic around in tease-y appetizers. Take charge and order the Lamb Three Ways ($28) dressed in sunchoke puree and a gently tart Persian lime sauce. Fork through the Seared Wild Striped Bass ($25) and warm spring salad accompaniment with malagueta sauce. But keep your eyes on your own plate because the Boneless All Natural Half Chicken "Under a Brick" drizzled in gremolata sauce and sided with couscous, dried apricots and green leeks is completely mine. I dare you to cross knives with me.
Although Balaboosta's bar is limited, the classiness of the selection is not lost on me. Get boozy with their White or Red Sangria ($9 / $33 pitcher) (white: white wine, apple, cardamom and lime // red: red wine, orange and clove), the Hana (champagne, blackberry, vanilla and lemon), or the Libby (champagne, fresh pineapple and safe leaf). Other regulars include mimosas, prosecco and cava.
Balaboosta also hosts brunch as well. I won't get into all the foodgasmic details of that since you won't be able to enjoy it until the weekend, but here are some dizzying, salivate-worthy keywords to think on all week: coconut brioche French toast, grilled skirt steak, greek yogurt, potato-yam rustiand feta and piave cheese.
Now that I've completely tormented you blind, make a date to try this all out for yourself. For dinner, they are open Monday through Friday, 5:30pm-11pm, Friday through Saturday, 5:30pm-12am, and Sunday, 5:30pm-10p, or sit yourself down for some brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-4pm.