Balkan Streat, a new fast food street restaurant serving burek, sourdough buns, sevapi, and Balkan-style burgers, opens today, January 24, at 353 Sixth Avenue, near West Washington Place, in Greenwich Village. The counter-service restaurant comes from William Djuric, alum of Bouchon Bakery, Gramercy Tavern, and Momofuku Ssam Bar.
After years working in the entertainment industry, and running his own film production company, Djurek turned to culinary school after his father’s death. Durić is of Serbian descent, and with Balkan Streat, has partnered with Jason Correa, a member of TAO, to create a menu that pays homage to his heritage, remixed for the current fast-casual scene. The duo brought in Milan Miliančević, a Serbian baker from Belgrade’s Hotel Moskva to lead the Balkan Baked Goods Program.
The result is a menu that combines traditional and modern Balkan-style recipes that are Dijuric’s personal. “My father passed away and my wife is also from that area, and she reconnected me to my roots, and that was a way to do it,” he says. “I may not fully speak the language, because I grew up half Serbian, but I can speak food.”
Set up like an all-day café, the menu is divided into several categories: in the grill section there is cevabi (Balkan-style, fingerless kebab), with versions such as Belgrade (pork and veal) and Sarajevo variations (beef and veal) lamb), served with onions, cabbage and wages. There is also a pljeskavica, a Balkan-style beef burger with onions, and a version stuffed with kashkaval cheese and ham. During lunch and dinner, there are also more structured dishes, such as pork rolls stuffed with kashkaval cheese, goulash, and sarma, which is cabbage rolls stuffed with ground pork.
From baked goods, Balkan Streat wanted to offer a delicious morning alternative like the more popular croissant; Offered in a hot to grab bag. Inside are classic filo-style burek (there are fillings like feta cheese, sauerkraut, bell peppers, roasted red peppers, and cheeseburgers), each served with a dill or paprika yogurt dip. “Whenever I’m in Belgrade, burek is my favorite for breakfast, it’s refreshing, cheesy — so I hope people respond to that.”
The restaurant will also serve sourdough donuts called krofne, with flavors like raspberry, pistachio or Nutella. Eventually, they’re working on more funky flavors.
Liquor licensing will begin in the coming weeks.
The restaurant seats 20, which a representative describes as having a “brutalist carved booth” and murals of Balkan history. Despite the restaurant’s Djuric pedigree, he wanted it to open in a fast-casual format not only paying homage to street food but also a nod to how more New Yorkers are dining now.
Parts of Queens have no shortage of Balkan restaurants, but the Balkans are different from Manhattan, where the food in the region is underrepresented: “This project was going on before I even knew it was going to happen. I spend my life every summer going to Serbia. It’s the food that We’ll produce is my childhood memory that I wish there were more places I could get food like this in NYC,” says Djurek.
As for the name itself, a region marked by conflict, Djuric felt it was important to acknowledge that although his father is Serbian, the food has roots throughout the Balkans, which includes countries like Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Albania: “On Although not all of our peoples may have coexisted historically, our food is a way for us to connect, I wanted everyone in the region to feel represented.”
Prior to opening Balkan Street in Greenwich Village, Djuric had already signed a second space in the East Village, at 145 Second Avenue, on East Ninth Street, which he described as more full-service, though still more casual, with large-format panels. He hopes to open in the spring.
It is part of Durić’s larger objectives in the Balkans. He’s betting that the Balkans “will be the next big thing” in fast-paced New York City.
Balkan Streat Greenwich Village is from 10am to 10pm, Tuesday through Sunday to start.
A selection of dishes including goulash, sausage rolls and stuffed schnitzel.