photo by Liz Barclay
Mulberry Street was once a Little Italy stronghold, but Soho has swallowed all but a couple of blocks of that now-touristy enclave, and new restaurants from other parts of the globe have usurped territory. One of those celebrates a different — and less ubiquitous, at least in New York — Mediterranean region: Balaboosta pays homage to husband-and-wife owners Stefan Nafziger and Einat Admony’s native Israel, building on the success of their tiny West Village falafel shop, Taïm. Admony maintains a bright menu of staples — fried olives with labne and harissa oil, crispy cauliflower with pine nuts and currants — as well as a daily list of specials, noted on a chalkboard and worth perusing for treats like lamb loin braised until it submits, quivering, to the touch of a fork. Her food is soulful: This is a dinner you want to eat with a celebratory red wine (which you can do without breaking the bank). Balaboosta is Yiddish for “the perfect housewife,” and the restaurant is so named for its aspiration to do it all and do it well. That spirit is perhaps most evident at Passover, when Admony collaborates with fellow chefs to prepare a Seder, connecting more deeply with a neighborhood that has already embraced its non-Italian neighbor.