Outstanding Kosher Barbecue Is Expanding in New York
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In recent years, kosher barbecue has made a name for itself in the New York metro area. In 2016 and 2017, two kosher pitmasters took the top prize at the Brisket King NYC event, cementing that kosher barbecue had arrived and was now a force to be reckoned with. In 2016, the pitmaster who won was Ari White of Wandering Que. In 2017, it was Sruli "Izzy" Eidelman of Izzy's Brooklyn Smokehouse.
Since that time, both Eidelman and White have been working to expand their footprints in the New York City metropolitan area, each in their own way. Eidelman has focused on new restaurants while White has built an extensive popup and catering business that travels around the Northeast. This year, Eidelman also won Rib King 2019.
Eidelman opened Izzy's Brooklyn Smokehouse in mid-2015 to great reviews. He has since grown his operations with Izzy's Taqueria, a kosher barbecue taco restaurant that opened in early March. “The Taqueria is good and we're serving really cool food out of there,” Eidelman said. “We're still working on perfecting the concept, but things are good so far.”
Next up for Eidelman is a fried chicken and Southern comfort restaurant, which will open in mid-September at 262 Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights with a menu including chicken, biscuits and gravy, dirty rice, and fried green tomatoes. The restaurant has been ready to go for a few months, but there is a moratorium on installing gas for many NYC restaurants, forcing the joint to convert all of its equipment to electric.
"We've been twiddling our thumbs, so we're excited to finally be serving food," Eidelman said.
After the fried chicken joint is up and running, Eidelman has plans to open a larger version of his barbecue smokehouse in Brooklyn. He said he will reveal more details on that once his plans progress further.
Over in New Jersey, White has recently finished a 23-month build out for the Wandering Que commissary and “barbecue headquarters” in Hackensack. The space that White took over is a factory that also houses a kosher butcher. It was originally expected to be a four-month build out. After many setbacks and government regulatory challenges, the build out was finished five weeks ago. Now, White can scale up his business further, with many more events, pop ups, and catering opportunities in New York, New Jersey, and beyond.
On top of this, Wandering Que already has pre-packaged kosher sausages in 23 states around the country and his sausages are being served at Citi Field (where the Mets play) as well as other stadiums. Next, White wants to pre-package smoked briskets that can be shipped, an extremely tricky item but one that he thinks will be popular.
“I'm most excited about rolling out fully cooked barbecue brisket,” White said. “It's not really a product that exists on the market. ... It grew out of something I'd been doing for my father for years where I would vacuum seal half-pound portions for him and send them to New Mexico. He keeps it in the freezer and then will boil it in water to finish it.”
White said he does not plan to open a restaurant because he wants to spend as much time with his wife and five children as he can and thinks the BBQ joint life would not provide enough time for family. “[The barbecue HQ] is the closest to a brick-and-mortar that I'm ever going to get,” White said.
While White and Eidelman have been known for awhile in the kosher barbecue scene, another Brooklyn kosher barbecue restaurant has emerged recently. Main House BBQ, which had closed last year, was reopened under new management in May 2019.
Yuda Holtzberg, a technology business owner, bought Main House from the previous owners. Holtzberg has been smoking meats for years and got the urge to open a restaurant, so he thought it made sense to take over Main House. He still runs his tech business, but has put a great deal of time into getting the restaurant back on the map.
"I didn't expect it to be this hard, but I embrace it," Holtzberg said. "I love seeing smiles and love seeing the satisfaction from customers."
Main House BBQ's most popular menu items are burgers, brisket, and pastrami. The pastrami is not available daily and sells out quickly. On the drink side, the restaurant recently opened a 100-person beer garden and offers more than 20 bottled craft beers.
One of the most interesting upcoming menu items Holtzberg is working on is a kosher bacon cheeseburger, which is a surprising item in the kosher food world. To get around restrictions, they will use specially cured beef that emulates a bacon taste and dairy-free cheese.
“The bacon is beef navel pastrami but we're curing it in a way that it tastes like bacon,” Holtzberg said. “We're using Daiya cheese that is impressively good. For the kosher world, this is going to be spectacular because it's not allowed. You can't have bacon, you can't have mixed meat and dairy, and here you have that opportunity.”
I personally have not had a chance to try the new version of Main House BBQ, but I look forward to checking out it out soon.
It's clear that with popularity of these three operations, kosher barbecue will continue to have a place in the NYC BBQ world. It works well because both kosher and non-kosher barbecue fans can get their fill with these unique items.
White expects that kosher barbecue will be something worth traveling for for a long time. “It's about bringing barbecue to the masses and spreading the gospel,” White said.
Founder, NYC BBQ
EAT ALL ABOUT IT
Here are the top BBQ and food stories in New York area this week:
The New York Times has profiled Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest, the butchers who recently ran White Gold on the Upper West Side and launched a line of sausages as part of their new company, J&E Small Goods. Along with the profile, the article also details how to host a summer barbecue like a professional, with tips on what to cook, food preparation, grilling smarts, decor, and more.
With the Pig Island 2019 event coming up soon, why not learn more about the talent that will be there? Food Karma’s Communications Director Dylan Heuer interviewed Tank Jackson of Holy City Hogs in South Carolina and Meghan Love of Mable’s Smokehouse in Brooklynso you can read about where they are from, their barbecue missions, and what they are bringing to Pig Island.
Randall’s Barbecue on the Lower East Side will be celebrating its one-year anniversary on Wednesday, August 28th. Owner and pitmaster Jared Male will be putting on a large “clam shack party” with a surprisingly large seafood menu and $4 pints of Narragansett all day to celebrate.
Thrillist has released an outstanding list of the 33 best BBQ joints in the U.S. and New York City is represented on it with both Arrogant Swineand Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn. The inclusion of Arrogant Swine may surprise some but it has often been an underrated entity in the local barbecue scene despite being the only one to serve North Carolina-style whole hog.
If you’re looking for barbecue in or around Boston, the soon-to-open Bonez Brothers BBQ in Quincy should be on your list. Eater Bostonreports that the joint will offer a “takeout-centered menu of barbecue items with a heavy emphasis on alligator, as a nod to owner Todd Noon’s history wrangling alligators in Florida.” It will also feature deep-fried key lime cheesecake for dessert.
Sad news to report from Bristol, Pennsylvania: Chuck’s BBQ has “closed its doors to diners, as the owners shift their focus to food truck events and catering,” Patch reports.
Finally, in a fun spotlight, local joint Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue was profiled in a new video from Business Insider. It points out that Morgan’s “goes through hundreds of pounds of mac 'n' cheese every week” and that there are eight varieties of mac including cheeseburger and buffalo chicken.
Here are the top BBQ (and related) food events coming soon to the New York metro and the Tri-state area:
August 24: This weekend, the Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival will bring exciting music and delicious food to Pier 97 at Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan. Admission is free and there will be five different blues acts throughout the day and four BBQ vendors selling grub, including Blue Smoke, Butcher Bar, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and Mighty Quinn's Barbeque. More info here.
September 7: For those that love all things pork and barbecue, the 10th annual Pig Island NYC will be a can’t-miss affair. Held outdoors at beautiful Erie Basin Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this all-inclusive event will feature a ton of great food, beer, cider, and liquor. I’m already hungry for it all. Read the full preview of the event and then buy tickets here.
September 7: The USA TODAY Wine & Food Experience will be taking place on September 7 at LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park. Attendees will be able to taste, savor, and explore the Brooklyn culinary scene, from local trends to regional traditions. Chefs and speakers include Antoni Porowski (Queer Eye), Alex Guarnaschelli (Chopped), and Dom De Marco (Di Fara Pizza). Buy tickets here.
September 14-15: The 2019 Country Rocks The Park Music and BBQ Fest will soon take place at Mill River Park in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. Over two days, Country Rocks The Park will feature the area’s top food trucks & vendors. Live performers include Granger Smith featuring Earl Dibbles Jr., RAELYNN, Willie Jones, Alisan Porter, and more. More info here.
September 15: If you love burgers, don’t miss the 9th Annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl. Taking place in Philly on Sunday, Sept. 15, the event will feature 60 Philadelphia region restaurants battling for burger bragging rights. Tickets start at $45. Proceeds go to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia to support hardware needs to implement math and reading literacy programs in underserved elementary schools. More info here.
September 20-21: The Greenwich Wine and Food Festival 2019 will take place September 20 and 21 in Greenwich, Connecticut, offering a grand tasting with more than 150 restaurants; a bartender showdown, lawn games, and live music from acts like Little Big Town. More info here.
September 20-22: The Oinktoberfest 2019 event in Clarence, New York (outside of Buffalo) is the longest continuously running barbecue competition and festival in New York State. It attracts many competition teams and also features music and food for families who want to hang out. Admission on Saturday and Sunday is $8/person. More info here.
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