Brooklyn hounds have been talking baba ghanoush. Damascus Bakery, an Atlantic Avenue go-to spot for breads and pastries, also sells a delicious, deeply smoky version of that Middle Eastern eggplant spread, gnosh reports. It goes beautifully with Damascus’s standout sesame pita. Also available, sometimes, is first-rate muhammara (red pepper–nut purée), but the person who makes it isn’t always around.
Which is how it goes with locally made prepared foods, unfortunately. The tip about Damascus comes at a good time, since the hound-endorsed baba once sold down the block at Sahadi’s—made by the one-time chef at a local restaurant—is now nowhere to be found, despite general wailing from customers. “Woe = Me,” laments longtime devotee Jim Leff.
Yet there’s also good news just up the street for lovers of Middle Eastern chow. Syrian favorite Waterfalls seems to be in top form. “I could eat there every week,” sighs bkgirl, “the food is so good.” She loves the vegetarian platter, a sampler of 8 to 10 dishes, including great hummus, chickpeas, and spicy potatoes, as well as another hound-worthy baba ghanoush. “We are tempted to try the meat platter,” she adds, “but the vegetarian options are just too good to pass up.” Also recommended: grape leaves, lentil soup, shrimp kebabs, bulgur-stuffed cabbage, spinach-cheese pies, moist and tasty chicken shawarma, and the deceptively simple carrots with parsley.
In Williamsburg, two-year-old Najeeb’s is also in a groove these days. This warm, cozy spot does first-rate Palestinian home cooking, including superior falafel, thick bean soups, and za’atar-flavored pies. Among the beverages, try cardamom coffee or rose water–mint lemonade. “A tremendous little restaurant,” declares ratatosk. If you can get the hospitable owner, Najeeb Shaheen, to talk about his music—which isn’t hard to do—you may be treated to an impromptu performance on the oud, the lutelike Arab instrument, which he not only plays but also makes.
And for dessert, check out Mazzat in Carroll Gardens. Savory dishes like Alexandria-style grilled fish are on the mark. But the baklava, made from a recipe that owner Gamal Bakhoum got from his Egyptian mother, is a show-stopper, loaded with pistachios and lightly sweetened with sugar syrup, not honey. “The last time I had very good baklava was in Turkey two years ago. Gamal’s rocked this,” bklynkat reports.
Damascus Bakery [Brooklyn Heights]
195 Atlantic Avenue (between Clinton and Court), Brooklyn
374 Graham Avenue (between Skillman and Conselyea), Brooklyn