Balaboosta is Yiddish for ‘perfect housewife’ and modeled after the Chef’s Aunt, who’s large portrait is featured prominently in the dining room and on the website. It’s a bit disturbing as the woman looks a little mean. You can see the resemblance in the Chef :).
The food is ‘home cooking’ Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style. The Chef/Owner Einat Admony also owns and operates Taim in the West Village, known for it’s killer felafel. And it seems they just branched out to a food truck. You can pick up a card with the number and call to find out where they are parked. http://taimfalafel.com/
The interior, as with most Nolita spots, is tight on space but has a warm atmosphere. The restaurant was completely booked, mostly with larger parties. As a result, we were stuck in one of four tiny ‘party of two’ seats in front of the open kitchen. You know the kind! Its like eating four courses off a cocktail table.
I was fascinated by Einat butchering meat, which further proved my point about the anti-‘balaboosta’ image. I also watched every plate put out for service and subsequently the staff arrival for pick up. Needless to say it was a tad distracting. After someone was seated at the table two inches from ours, I was additionally distracted by their conversation. That is my only beef with the place. I would go back again though for the food.
The hummus was great and a hugely generous portion. It comes with the roasted garlic and a few chick peas sprinkled on the top with a mortar and pestle to mash it up yourself. It is served with house made za’atar pita bread. The shrimp kataif appetizer was also delicious. I have had the phylo wrapped shrimp before, but the combination of the roe sauce with the shrimp was unique. It had a wasabi flavor and the consistency of the large roe was like tapioca. We both enjoyed our entrees. Steve had the pasta, which I would consider a stretch for Middle Eastern, but it was so hardy and comforting. I got the whole branzino, which I needed to fillet myself. I would have liked a larger table and an extra plate for the bone, but otherwise it was perfectly cooked, light and the lemon dill sauce was so fresh.
Hummus “Mortar And Pestle”: with Tahini, Lemon, Roasted Garlic 7
Shrimp “Kataïf”, Wrapped in Shredded Phyllo, Served with Flying Fish Roe Sauce 13
Orchiette Pasta with Wild Mushrooms, Sauteed Kale, Fresh Ricotta, Thyme & Olive oil 20
Grilled Whole Branzino, Baby Root Vegetable Salad, Roasted Potatoes, Lemon-Dill Sauce 29
We’ve now been back to Balaboosta 3 times and it continues to be a favorite. Without exception, the food has been perfection.
We stopped in this summer for lunch and I had the most fabulous ceviche I’ve ever had. And the photo really shows it! Shame on me for not updating this post earlier!! Also, Steve had the Tunisian sandwich, which is a fabulously balanced and complex. We started with cocktails and the Mediterranean sampler, which is about the freshest and most delicious combo of spreads and housemade pita around.
Red Sangria with Creme de Cassis, Orange and Cranberry $9
Hana with Lillet Blanc, Fresh Basil, Green Grapes, Lime $11
Mediterranean Sampler: Hummus, Tzatziki, Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Za’atar Pita $8
Ceviche with Bulgar, Cilantro, Chili & Lemon $10
Tunisian Sandwich with Tuna, Hard Boiled Egg, Preserved Lemon, Pickled Carrots, Potato, Olives, Harissa & a Mixed Green Salad
We decided to go back again over our holiday vacation, this time to try brunch. Again, it was fabulous. Brunch can be a boring experience, so we often cut it out as a meal option. Balaboosta delivered creativity and really impressed us. Both of us were blown away by our meal. I had a breakfast pizza with such a tasty combo of flavors and a bit of heat piled on a pita and topped with eggs. Steve had Short Rib hash topped with a fried egg and yogurt dipping sauce. Our only complaint was the Bloody Marys – they had so much horseradish we had to chew them. It is a personal preference of ours to go a bit lighter on the spice.
Grilled Breakfast Pizza, Caramelized Onions, Grape Tomato, Jalepeno, Kalamata Olives, Two Sunny Side Eggs & Goat Cheese $12
Braised Short Rib Hash, Fried Egg, Cilantro Yogurt Sauce & Grilled Sourdough $15
We will continue to return to Balaboosta! Also of note, Taim Falafel now opened a large outpost right next door to Balaboosta. The popularity continues to grow.
214 Mulberry St. – NoLita