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Restaurant Openings

Week of April 5, 2010: Balaboosta, Crop to Cup Cafe, and Zengo.


214 Mulberry St., nr. Spring St.; 212-966-7366
In Yiddish, a balaboosta is “the perfect housewife,” says Einat Admony, the Israeli chef-owner of Taïm, who chose the word as the name of her new Nolita restaurant. The space is a paean of sorts to domestic paragons, with stacks of cookbooks written by women and a portrait of Admony’s Aunt Hana, who “always had ten pots on the stove.” At Balaboosta, whatever’s on the stove will be clearly visible to passersby, as the kitchen is separated from the sidewalk by only a glass façade. Admony made her name with falafel and hummus at Taïm, but here she’ll channel stints at Patria, Bolo, Tabla, and Danube into a more ambitious menu integrating Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors and mostly organic ingredients. The pasta’s gluten-free, and the falafel will appear not stuffed in pita but as a crust around herb- infused grass-fed meatballs on a stick.

Crop to Cup Cafe
139 Atlantic Ave., nr. Henry St., Brooklyn Heights; no phone yet
Crop to Cup Coffee Co. is a Brooklyn-and-Chicago-based coffee importer and distributor whose retail presence has been limited to the Brooklyn Flea—until now. This week (permits pending), co-founder Taylor Mork opens Crop to Cup Cafe, showcasing his Uganda-grown, Brooklyn-roasted beans in an Atlantic Avenue storefront that will function as a retail co-op managed and curated by its members. Everything but the espresso machine will be for sale, including antique furniture and its contents: Armoires will be filled with clothes, and shelves will be stocked with flower teas and locally produced groceries like McClure’s Pickles and Early Bird granola. There are plans to launch a daily set menu with ingredients supplied by Basis, the farm-to-chef distributor that’s using the space as a drop-off point for its home-delivery service. Until then, expect pastries from Kumquat Cupcakery and a range of coffee drinks: espresso, drip, French press, and single-serve cups made with au courant gadgets like Clever Coffee Drippers and Hario drippers from Japan.

622 Third Ave., at 40th St. 212-808-8110
Asian-Latin fusion cuisine is nothing new in this town, but Zengo might be the first restaurant to pair a mezzanine-level sake and shochu lounge with a basement-level tequila bar complete with its own tequila sommelier. In between these boozy retreats there is a dining room, featuring a menu by chef-owner Richard Sandoval, divided into sections like “Dim Sum & Antojitos” and “Ceviches & Tiraditos.” There are sushi rolls, too, and rice and noodle dishes—even a bánh mì for lunch. Akhtar Nawab, late of Elettaria, is the chef de cuisine, Sandoval’s crooner pal Plácido Domingo is a partner, and AvroKO designed the wrought-iron-screened, 170-seat space.


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