Monday, September 15, 2014


As someone who is very much into food, I've had my fair share of good to even great meals. I've also had my share of mediocre to bad ones too. But very rarely, do I come across a meal that not only satisfied my hunger but also impressed me so much  that it left me with the feeling of elation. Balaboosta is one such restaurant. From top to bottom, I was just happy. The food and the service was great. This is one restaurant that I would highly recommend to you even though I haven't even gone through what I had there yet. Yes, it was THAT good.
Balaboosta has been on my go to list for awhile. So when Mr. Matzo Ball's birthday came around, I suggested it. He was as excited as I was. I made my reservation for a group of 6 and happily waited until it the day of the meal. A few days before our reservation, we needed to add 2 more people. No problem, I thought. Oops! It seemed to be difficult for the restaurant as the space is not that big. They'll try to accommodate us but no promises. So as the date crept up, I became more and more nervous. And this is when the front of the house went above and beyond their duty. They made it work for us. They had every right to deny us a table for 8 due to the last minute changes but they worked their magic. The accommodated us in every way and I was very grateful.

And that was only the beginning. Now onto the food! We started with a bunch of appetizers to share. First up, the fried olives with organic labne and harissa oil ($8). These delicious morsels of briny olives breaded and fried until crispy. And the ultra smooth strained yogurt with a punch of chili oil. A really great way to start off the meal.

We also shared two orders of the hummus ($9) which is made with a mortar and pestle and served with homemade za'atar spiced pita. The hummus was really luxurious and smooth. The pita came warm to the table and was so fluffy and thick. This is no ordinary pita. The amount of food we received was generous compared to the price.
The shrimp cazuela ($16) was delicious was well with tender pieces of shrimp sitting in a bowl of chickpeas, lemon, and jalapeno. It was served with some crusty sourdough bread. This dish reminded me of the Spanish dish gambas al ajillo but less pungent.
Another favorite of the night was the Israeli street fair ($16) with a chicken and merguez pita sandwich, sweet potato fries, and bag of pickled vegetables. This would be a great meal for one person. We took turns taking bites from the sandwich then oohing and aahing over it. Just lovely and filled with flavor.
The roasted artichoke over yogurt was a special that day. You tear off the leaved and scrap the inside against your teeth extracting the tender meat. It's certainly a hands on approach and can get messy. But it was rewarding as the pulp was nice and tender.
The grilled octopus ($17) with cipollini onion salad and black bread crumbs was tender as ever. We just wish that the portion was a bit more generous. Otherwise, another delicious meal.
And the last shared appetizer was the beet pizza ($14) with red beet puree, seared fennel, orange, goat cheese, and arugula on top. This was delicious! It was more like a flatbread than a pizza but the flavors were wonderful. The classic combination of beets and goat cheese along with the citrusy notes of the orange, anise flavors of the fennel, and bitterness of the arugula. Everything just worked together really well.
And now the entrees which we all pretty much picked similar dishes. The saffron fettucine ($22) with kalamata olives, oven dried tomatoes, fennel, and feta cheese was a mixed bag of flavors and textures. You got sweet, briny, salty, creamy, rich, milky, bitter, and much more. It kept your mouth guessing and wanting more. But don't be deceived. This dish was much heftier than people thought and it certainly filled up people before they knew it.
The boneless half chicken under a brick ($26) was another popular dish of the night. How could we blame them? The chicken was cooked until the skin was crispy but the meat stayed juicy and tender. And it was a big piece of chicken. They were certainly generous with that. Along with the fowl, the garnish was a corn and fava bean salad and a gremolata. The summer produce helped cut through the richness of the chicken. It was a well rounded dish and satisfied all who ordered it.
As for my dish, I had one of the fish specials of the night: the pan seared red snapper. The crispy skin was just perfect and the tender meat underneath was wonderfully executed. The yuca fries, market greens, and red pepper sauce was just the perfect pairing for this piece of fish. I felt complete satisfied with flavor, texture, and quantity.
And since it was Mr. Matzo Ball's birthday dinner, we didn't forget about dessert. We pretty much asked for one of every dessert they had for the night and shared them. This chocolate pot de creme was incredibly smooth and creamy. Just enough chocolate richness to satisfy but not overwhelmingly so.
The knafe pie with a berry sauce was also good. It was lighter than what I've had previously which was a welcomed surprise. I dislike having a heavy dessert after a meal. The only thing that we disliked about the dish was the rose water ice cream on top. But that's just personal preference.
The banana bread was sweet from the ripe fruit as well as the caramel sauce. However, it wasn't cloying and was actually quite delightful.
And finally, the berry crumble which was my favorite. The sweet and tart berries with a buttery streusal on top. So delicious!
As you can tell by now, my meal at Balaboosta was just wonderful. I really enjoyed their vegetable heavy menu even though I didn't feel like I was only eating vegetables. The flavors that they achieved and the cooking techniques that they used was great. As I mentioned previously, not only did I leave happy and satisfied, but we all agreed that we would recommend this place to all our other friends. They just impressed us that much. Bravo, Balaboosta! Bravo!

214 Mulberry Street
New York, NJ 10012


  1. Balaboosta is one of my favorites for all the reasons you mentioned- and perfect since they actually have creative delicious vegetarian options for me yet also have plenty of omni choices too.
    I'm dying to go to her new place bar bolant next!

    1. Yes! Bar Bolant sounds fantastic. I haven't been but it's on my list.


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