New York Pop-Ups Deliver the Country's Most Exciting Jewish Fare

For One Evening, Restaurants Offer a Jewish Connection

L’Chaim! Diners sip cocktails and dig into rich creamy bowls of hummus and crunch salads at a pop-up hosted by EatWith.
Elion Paz
L’Chaim! Diners sip cocktails and dig into rich creamy bowls of hummus and crunch salads at a pop-up hosted by EatWith.

By Devra Ferst

Published September 03, 2013, issue of September 06, 2013.
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Later in the fall, Jeffrey Yoskowitz, a co-founder of The Gefilteria, will reimagine the site of his childhood family celebrations, the famed dairy restaurant Ratner’s with a two-week pop-up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “We’re paying tribute to what Ratner’s represented and things that were only…found there,” Yoskowitz said.

There has “been a renaissance of delis… but dairy restaurants haven’t had their due,” he explained. While the details of the pop-up are still being worked out, Yoskowitz and his business partner, Liz Alpern, have tested a number of cheese blintz recipes and are considering developing a recipe for the restaurant’s famous onion rolls.

For Israeli-born New Yorker Naama Shefi, pop-ups have become a way to connect to a faraway homeland. She is the New York marketing director for the Israeli food startup EatWith; a company often considered to be the Airbnb of food, it allows locals and visitors to a city to purchase tickets to special dining events hosted at homes in the area.

During the company’s New York launch weekend, Shefi hosted a traditional Israeli brunch in her sun-drenched apartment, serving hummus masabacha from Brooklyn Hummus, a one-man operation based in Brooklyn that churns out hummus as rich and creamy as the bowls from Israel’s best hummusiahs.

When Shefi first tried it, she said, the taste of home nearly made her cry. She rounded out the meal with slow-cooked eggs and a collection of Israeli salads, pickles and fresh fluffy pita, creating an event that had the feeling of brunch in Tel Aviv.

EatWith is Shefi’s second foray into the world of pop-ups. In March she hosted a three-week-long restaurant specializing in the classic Iraqi Jewish soup kubbeh, which featured meatballs wrapped in bulgur, served in a choice of beet or lemon broth or pumpkin puree.

“New York is a city where you can find anything — but kubbeh is the one thing I couldn’t find,” she said.

It was a personal yearning that helped inspire Shefi to create The Kubbeh Project. While Shefi’s family is of Ashkenazi, not Iraqi, descent, kubbeh is a classic dish of Israel’s markets. “If our generation isn’t active in preserving these flavors — they will disappear…. It was a really honest attempt to discuss… [and] broaden the conversation about Jewish culture,” she said.


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