Balaboosta Starts Cooking in Nolita

In Yiddish, a balaboosta is “the perfect housewife,” says Einat Admony, the Israeli chef and partner, with her husband, Stefan Nafziger, of Taïm, the bustling West Village falafel shop. “She deals with the kids, the cooking and cleaning, and bonds the family together.” Does the fact that Admony named her new Nolita restaurant Balaboosta mean that she considers herself one? “I don’t have time for all that,” she says, and no wonder: Before opening Taïm almost five years ago, Admony worked in kitchens as diverse as Patria, Bolo, Tabla, and David Bouley’s Danube, which is where she met Nafziger, a manager at Bouley at the time. Although she’s made her name with hummus and three signature flavors of falafel, at Balaboosta, the worldly chef plans to incorporate her varied experience into a menu that integrates the Middle East and larger swaths of the Mediterranean, like Spain and Italy (Nafziger’s value-conscious wine list traverses similar ground).

The couple, along with partner Ahron Matalon of Corrado Bread & Pastry, plan to officially open for dinner this Saturday, but they hosted a casual open house last Friday to meet and greet the neighbors and debut the space, a wide two-storefront spot with an almost all-window façade. The bar’s at one end, and at the other, the open kitchen, where Admony and her crew will be making all their own pickles and preserves. Admony doesn’t want to scare people off with the H word, but she considers Balaboosta’s food “healthy,” made with less fat and mostly organic ingredients. The pasta’s gluten-free, and the beef in the albondigas is grass-fed—they’re falafel-wrapped meatballs on a stick. Although she’s stocked dining room shelves with vintage cookbooks, they’re mostly for show. “I never really follow recipes,” she says. And she’s not above poaching them: “Dave’s Grilled Pizza” with carrot purée, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and cilantro comes courtesy of her dermatologist, an avid foodie who served it to her at a dinner party. Right away, something tasted familiar — it turns out the secret ingredient in the purée was Taïm’s homemade harissa.

Pickles a variety of Balaboosta house made pickles 6
Spicy Nuts a selection of spicey nuts 5
Fried Olives with labne & harissa oil 5
Roasted Cauliflower with currants & pine nuts 6
Quinoa Salad dried cranberries, herbs & preserved lemon 8
Hummus Whole Garbanzo, Roasted Garlic 8
Shrimp Kataif, flying fish roe sauce 11
Falafel wrapped Albondigas with green tahini 9
Chicken Liver Mousse with daily confiture 8
Grilled Merguez, red pepper & corn relish 9

Sunchoke & Chestnut Soup with yogurt & nigella seeds 9
Mussels in harissa broth, Gr& Mariner, shallots & parsley 9
Smoked Eggplant with herb salad & silan 10
Dave’s Grilled Pizza carrot purée, caramelized 9
onions, goat cheese & cilantro
Daily Ceviche 12
Market Salad 9

Bouillabaisse crab dumpling, saffron aioli 23
Pasta with calamata olives, cherry tomatoes & Ouzo 17
Grilled Whole Fish with seasonal greens 21
Butcher Steak with roasted sweet potato & cumin slaw 24
Boneless Half Chicken “under a brick” with paella 19
style barley, pine-nuts, apricots
Lamb Two Ways grilled lamb chops, & chard wrapped 26
tenderloin, with sunchoke purée & Persian lime sauce

White Wine, Apple, Cardamom, Lime 8

Red Wine, Orange, Cocoa, Spice 8

Lillet, Lemonade, Orange Blossom Water 8

Champagne, fresh pineapple, Sage leaf 8

Champagne, Blackberry, Vanilla, Lemon 8

Balaboosta, 214 Mulberry St., nr. Spring St.; 212-966-7366

Balaboosta Starts Cooking in Nolita