William Djuric, the chef and co-proprietor of the West Village’s new fast-everyday restaurant Balkan StrEAT, grew up—on the Upper East Side—with the foodstuff of the Balkans. His father, a Serbian artist, cooked goulash at residence in the summers the two of them travelled to Belgrade, and they would take in their way by way of the area. Later in lifestyle, Djuric attended the Institute of Culinary Training and labored at Bouchon Bakery, Gramercy Tavern, and Momofuku Ssäm Bar, all the although dreaming of opening his very own ćevapi area. Ćevapi—kebabs served on your own or on a bun, with ajvar, a distribute of roasted purple pepper—are the greatest Serbian road foodstuff. “I knew that at some point, when I did my have issue, with any luck , 1 working day, it would be Balkan meals,” Djuric explained to me. “You can get it in Manhattan, but I often imagined one thing was missing—a position that represented the street meals, the vibe that I knowledgeable.”
Djuric later on married a woman who is 50 % Croatian and 50 % Serbian, but it was the pandemic that spurred him into action. He and Jason Correa—a mate since middle school, and a previous director for the Tao Group—decided to go for it: after a year of planning, they opened Balkan StrEAT in January.
“I like to say that this is my fantasy model of what I try to remember,” Djuric said. The vivid, clean place, with dark-pink tile and terrazzo counters, matches 6 tables in the entrance, upcoming to a painted mural with photos of Balkan kitsch friendly cashiers with Serbo-Croatian accents provide descriptions of unfamiliar menu things to people not in the know. Ćevapi are shaped into four-inch grilled kebabs, produced in this article with beef and salt and a couple of “secret substances,” according to Djuric, served 5 or 10 to a tray, with ajvar, pickled inexperienced fefferoni peppers, flippantly dressed shredded cabbage, and wedges of bread. There is the šiš ćevap, a ćevap sandwich on a hoagie-duration bun the pljeskavica, a burger made of the similar ćevap meat, on a flat 6-inch bun and burek, baked phyllo pie stuffed with your selection of brined cow’s-milk piknik cheese, spinach and piknik cheese, potato and onion, or lamb and floor beef.
All the meat dishes are accompanied by lepinja, a mouth watering spongy white bread with a crisp exterior—“a cross concerning pita and English muffin,” as a single consumer explained it—cooked at 7 hundred degrees in the shop’s pizza oven for just a handful of minutes. The baked items are manufactured in-household by Milan Milijančević, an artisan recruited from Belgrade and formerly the head baker at Resort Moskva, well known for its cakes.
For the irresistible burek, Milijančević hand-stretches phyllo dough and varnishes it with vegetable shortening (as opposed to traditional Serbian pork fats), yielding light-weight, crunchy edges and chewy inside levels. Djuric stated that hand-stretching is uncommon: “It’s a really tricky factor to do, so even the ideal places to eat will use phyllo sheets. But you are in no way heading to get that burek texture, with the doughiness in involving and the flakiness on the edge, if you never hand-extend it.” Milijančević can make perfect krofne, too—great puffball doughnuts, in loaded flavors like raspberry, with a magenta dusting of crushed and sugared freeze-dried raspberries, and pistachio, loaded with a thick, not also sweet custard.
You can also come across Balkan delicacies throughout city at Kafana (116 Avenue C), an atmospheric outdated-environment Serbian tavern in the East Village. There, gruffly sort waiters dole out large parts of fried spearing, a baitfish ljuta, spicy pork-and-jalapeño sausage pork ribs in bean stew and zeljanica, a dense spinach pie, together with a extensive collection of Balkan wines. Djuric and Correa are growing to that neighborhood, too: in May perhaps, they prepare to open up a second, greater cafe, with table support, wine, and Balkan beers. An extended menu will include Balkan StrEAT’s clincher, a warmly spiced goulash—tender hunks of beef brisket in a thick gravy of tomato, purple pepper, and sweet paprika, around mashed potatoes—which far more than nearly anything preferences like residence. (Dishes $5-$16.) ♦