100-05 Metropolitan Ave., nr. 70th Ave., Forest Hills; 718-880-2055
Mayonnaise is the very worst thing that can happen to an unsuspecting baba ghannouj. The second worst? Undersmokiness. That’s not an issue at Wafa’s, where chef-owner Wafa Chami and her apprentice sons light an eggplant-dedicated wood fire and char-grill jumbo specimens until they turn black on the outside and fall-apart-tender within. Skinned and put through a grinder, the melting flesh gets blended with fresh lemon, salt, and a touch more tahini and garlic than a meeker palate would deem appropriate. The result is a textbook-perfect Lebanese take on the classic eggplant purée, and a highlight of Chami’s meze selection. Perhaps one out of every 50 customers finds the smoke level off-putting, says Chami’s eldest, Youssef, “but we would never consider changing the recipe.” Or, perish the thought, adding Hellmann’s.
Best Baba Ghannouj
From the 2012 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).