Kosher BBQ Fires Up In Crown Heights
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Kosher BBQ Fires Up In Crown Heights

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers trends among youth and millennials, progress and pushback in the Orthodox world, women's issues, the Jewish LGBTQ community and Reform and Conservative Jewish life. She also heads the Investigative Journalism Fund, a special project of the Jewish Week to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting, and 36 Under 36, an annual special issue profiling 36 exceptional young leaders. Reach her at hannah@jewishweek.org

Izzy’s BBQ Addiction, the long-awaited kosher smokehouse in Crown Heights, is finally open for service.

At last week’s soft opening, customers lined up out the door, many forced to take food to go because of the limited seating. The 600-square-foot location on 397 Troy Ave., at Montgomery Street, seats 25 to 30, plus a few tables outside during the summer.

“We travel for good food, and this was definitely worth the trip,” said David Jacobs, who came from Long Island with his wife, Shani, and their three children. Jacobs said the pit-smoked brisket and beans and the pulled-beef tacos with pico de gallo particularly stood out. “It’s chock full of rich flavors — kind of like Brooklyn,” he joked.

For owner Sruly Eidelman, the opening has been a long time coming. Though scheduled to open last October, construction was halted several times because of city zoning and permit regulations, he said. Until recently, the FDNY had banned “authentic” smokers as fire hazards.

“The authentic wood-smoked taste is what makes the difference,” said Eidelman, who uses no gas in the BBQ process.

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s finally happening,” he added while slicing ribs as customers looking on hungrily. “We’re here to deliver.”

Deliver they will. The menu, already generating buzz in the online kosher food scene, offers extra-large beef “dinosaur” ribs, smoked hot wings, and, of course, smoked cholent, the quintessential Shabbat stew.

“If you’re a vegetarian, stay out,” one customer joked.

Eidelman’s joint reflects a recent trend in kosher fine dining. The Brooklyn foodie scene is developing a kosher-foodie sub-scene, centered in Crown Heights, including Boeuf & Bun, a kosher artisanal hamburger spot, and Basil, a kosher Italian bistro.

Eidelman, a 27-year-old Jewish foodie from Brooklyn, used to work in a cabinetry company before opening Izzy’s BBQ Addiction as a part-time pop-up operation about two years ago. As he cooked, he would post the menu on his Facebook page as he cooked and orders would come in online. When the meat was ready, about 16 hours later, Eidelman would make home deliveries.

Though he always had a passion for food, Eidelman might have stayed in cabinetry had he not stumbled upon Ari White, the El Paso, Texas-born chef who owns and operates the Wandering ’Que, a kosher barbeque truck that travels around the city.

“Ari has been my barbecue guru,” said Eidelman. “If Ari likes my food, I know I’m doing something right.”

Jacobs, who has been a faithful customer ever since visiting the pop-up, described how he actively pursued Eidelman over the past two years to convince him to open a restaurant. “I wasn’t going to stop until I could have that taste on a regular basis,” he said.

Because of the high volume of customers, Eidelman said there are already plans to lease the space next door.

“We knew people were excited, but we couldn’t have predicted this turnout,” he said.

While quality taste is his priority, Eidelman hopes his restaurant can provide more than just food — he’s looking to create a unique atmosphere.

“I want this to be a place where you can sit down, order a great craft beer, listen to some bluegrass music and talk with your friends,” Eidelman said. “And I think that more Jews need to try this kind of food.”

editor@jewishweek.org

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