Ayesha Nurdjaja grew up in Gravesend, Brooklyn, with an Italian mother and an Indonesian dad, and spent about a decade cooking Italian food at places like Felidia and A Voce. Then she became the chef at Hundred Acres, which at the time was unreconstructed southern down to its biscuits and grits. The owners encouraged Nurdjaja to remake the menu in a Mediterranean mold. But what began as a focus on Italy, Spain, and Greece gradually shifted to reflect Nurdjaja’s true passion: Middle Eastern cuisine. This spring, she completes the restaurant’s Levantine transformation with a new focus on kebabs and shareable spreads. You can preview her falafel sandwich — inspired, in part, by the cult pita pockets of Paris’s L’As du Fallafel — at a pop-up on April 8 in a vacant storefront next to sister restaurant Vic’s. “I made it the way I’d want to eat it,” she says, which is to say zingy with acid, crunchy with vegetables, and possessing a different flavor in every bite.
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On the menu at the Bowery Restaurant Group pop-up, noon to 8 p.m.; $10; 33 Great Jones St., nr. Lafayette St.; 212-253-5700
*This article appears in the April 3, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.