Izzy’s Kosher BBQ Empire Grows with Izzy’s Fried Chicken
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This week, Sruli "Izzy" Eidelman grew his kosher food footprint with the opening of Southern comfort restaurant Izzy's Fried Chicken, his third joint in Crown Heights.
Eidelman is one of a handful of New York-based food entrepreneurs who have innovated in the growing kosher barbecue space. He opened his well-received Izzy's Brooklyn Smokehouse in mid-2015 and has won numerous barbecue competitions including Brisket King NYC and Rib King NYC.
But Eidelman has taken his passion for kosher experimentation a step further than barbecue, with the opening of Izzy's Taqueria earlier this year and this week's opening of Izzy's Fried Chicken. His three restaurants are audacious and often delicious experiences that play with conventions and expectations because they are forced to do so.
With kosher food, you must keep milk and meat separate, and meat must be purchased from a kosher distributor. This means Eidelman is presented with many challenges when creating new dishes, including the fact that he is trying to emulate "authentic" items he's never been able to eat.
"I've been trying to evolve over the years, from barbecue to Central American to Southern, and I want to bring these things to the kosher community," Eidelman said. "They aren't too common in the industry and doesn't really exist. I thought [Izzy's Fried Chicken] would be a chance to bring the relaxed restaurant vibe, where you can have a drink and experience Southern comfort food that will make you happy."
Eidelman said he has been working for the past two years on Southern-inspired recipes that work within kosher limitations. One of the biggest restrictions is that buttermilk is commonly used in fried chicken and biscuit recipes, and Eidelman had to experiment with flavor profiles that took milk out of the equation.
"We use a mix of spices and other ingredients I can't disclose, but we've figured out other ways to work without that," Eidelman said. "It took us a long time."
Some of Eidelman's personal favorites on the menu are the fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and fried green tomatoes. "Overall, it's small, cool menu," Eidelman said. "If you really want to, you could come in here and not even order fried chicken and have a good experience."
Personally, I found the chicken and waffles, fish and grits, Cornish hen, fried pickles, and peach crumble to be the standout items. I wasn't sold on the buffalo wings and biscuits and gravy, both of which felt a little too far from the source material. Nevertheless, every bite I had was unique, and I've never eaten anywhere quite like this.
Eidelman acknowledges that the recipes may change even more, so what I tried may not be exactly the same as what you'll get in a few months.
"Overall we're happy now, but we're always going to be tweaking and trying to get better," Eidelman said. "We're not stuck in our ways. We're also getting used to cooking with electric fryers."
As for the restaurant design, Izzy's Fried Chicken wouldn't be out of place in a hip area of Nashville, with wooden tables, chairs, floors, and a bright color palette. There's also a surprisingly large outside area in the back with red chairs. The inside of the restaurant seats about 50 people and the backyard seats about 45.
"I have a really good designer and he's phenomenal," Eidelman said. "In the beginning, there was some stuff I was hesitant about but he told us to 'just trust me,' and overall I'm very happy with the design."
While many details are final, the restaurant experience at Izzy's Fried Chicken isn't totally complete yet. Eidelman said he 1) wants to add white meat to the menu because people have been asking for it, and 2) plans to add beer and liquor which will pair well with the joint's spacious outdoor seating.
"We're excited to be open, and we welcome everybody whether you're Jewish or non-Jewish," Eidelman said. "The goal is to come in and have a good time.
Founder, NYC BBQ
EAT ALL ABOUT IT
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In a fun “baseball and BBQ” story, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle writes that MLB All-Star Aaron Judge found out he was being called up to the Yankees from the minor leagues while he was eating at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester back in 2016.
The Nassau Daily Voice has written up a short spotlight on Swingbellys Beachside BBQ in Long Beach, New York. Some of the specialities there include BBQ Tacos, Brisket Grilled Cheese, and the “Famous Mac N’ Pete,” which are burnt ends tossed with housemade mac and cheese.
If you’re doing any grilling this late summer and fall, the New York Post has an informative post on how long to grill your burgers to achieve perfect results. For example, if you want a medium burger, grill for 5 minutes per side and achieve an internal temperature of about 140 degrees.
ICYMI: I stopped in at Mike’s BBQ in Philadelphia last weekend and would highly recommend going if you are ever in Philly. Be sure to try the ribs, Korean wings, Gouda mac 'n' cheese, and brisket cheesesteak if you can go.
Here are the top BBQ (and related) food events coming soon to the New York metro and the Tri-state area:
September 7: For those that love all things pork and barbecue, the 10th annual Pig Island NYC will be a can’t-miss affair this weekend. Held outdoors at beautiful Erie Basin Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this all-inclusive event will feature a ton of great food from all-star chefs, 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.
September 21: The 15th Annual (And Final) Vendy Awards, a fundraiser for the Street Vendor Project, will take place on Governors Island. This will be the final Vendy Awards ever. During the event, 25 of NYC's best street vendors will go head-to-head and compete for the ultimate prize — The Vendy Cup. More info here.
September 22: The Dining For Justice Pig Roast at Anable Basin in Long Island City, Queens will feature an awesome roasted pig and more from Don Rodrigo Duarte, acclaimed butcher at Caseiro e Bom and New Jersey’s “King of Hams.” Side dishes will be provided by Chefs Consortium and Betty Bakery will be serving desserts.Profits from this event go directly to Immigrant Families Together, a network of Americans committed to the unification of families separated by the zero tolerance policy at the U.S./Mexico border. Buy tickets here.
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