When Abdul Elenani opened Ayat in October 2020, the mission was simple: He wanted to introduce Palestinian cuisine, something his wife, Ayat Masoud – a passionate lawyer and home cook, whose recipes are used throughout the restaurant – had stressed that she was desperately needed. in the city. The quick and laid-back Bay Ridge spot, which bears his name and is in many ways a collaboration between the couple, quickly became a hit, and in less than three months, New York timeFood critic Pete Wells left off with a positive review.
Less than a year later, the restaurant is already expanding with the opening of Albadawi at 151 Atlantic Avenue, near Clinton Street, in Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday, November 9. . It’s hard enough to find staff for just one restaurant, âsays Elenani, who also owns Cocoa Grinder and Falahi Farms cafes, a grocery store and Belgian spot Fritebar, while running her own construction business.
But in the coming months, Elenani will also launch a second Ayat location near Industry City, and he hinted that more Ayats are already in the works beyond New York.
Unlike Ayat, however, Albadawi will offer full service and will be larger than its sibling, with a capacity of almost 100 diners between its indoor and outdoor facilities. Many items on the menu overlap with what’s available at Ayat – like kebabs and the precious mansaf (a lamb dish made from fermented yogurt), among other Palestinian recipes – but a considerable number of new items are on display. When Albadawi launches, it will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Unique to Albadawi, the malfouf (cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, parsley, tomatoes, onions, minced meat and spices), as well as the extensive menu of pizzas – consisting of a mixture of whole wheat and plain baked flour – with nine different options ranging from a pistachio seven cheese pie to a shawarma version. Other distinct dishes from the restaurant include family recipes for fasolia (green beans and beef in a tomato stew), bamia (a tomato stew with okra and beef), and ouzi (a rice dish with base of beef, chicken or lamb and sprinkled with peas and carrots).
The dishes will be served family-style and the environment, in part given the new neighborhood, will be slightly upscale.
âWith the kitchen much larger, we have more flexibility to showcase traditional Palestinian dishes which take a lot more time and effort,â says Elenani. âI needed a space to really present dishes unique to Palestine. Elenani’s longtime friend Akram Nassir, owner of the Yemen Cafe down the street on Atlantic Avenue (which originally owned what became the Albadawi space with a different concept that didn’t work out) ) joined Elenani as co-owner of the new Palestinian spot.
As many of the ingredients as possible come directly from Palestinian farmers, which Elenani says is important to him in building a scene for the kitchen here in Brooklyn. One of those ingredients is olive oil, a nod to the restaurant’s name and refers to the oldest olive tree in the world, believed to be in Palestine. âUltimately, Palestinian farmers need outside support,â Elenani says. âIf we don’t start by supporting them and keeping their businesses running, then what is our purpose in life? ”
But the restaurant is only part of Elenani’s vision. Soon he will be moving full time to his own farm in Pittstown, New Jersey called Heartland, where for the past three months he has now produced his own halal lamb and beef which he uses in the restaurant – coming full circle on his production of meat.
When Ayat first opened on Third Avenue, Elenani said they were harassed for using the restaurant to share their political beliefs, for which they continued to be targeted. Other Palestinian restaurant owners Eater has spoken to in the past have expressed similar sentiments: some say that even calling their restaurant proudly Palestinian can put them at risk of hate mail. Elenani hopes the new neighborhood will host Palestinian cuisine.
âFor me, food is not enough to keep me motivated. There must be a bigger goal and the more important goal is to raise awareness about the culture of Palestine, âElenani said. “This is a real country, which really exists and has existed for thousands of years.”