Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov is best known for two very different restaurants. His empire, along with partner Steven Cook, spans two of the city’s best-loved eateries — Zahav, with its revered upscale Israeli food, and the beautiful fried marriage of crispy chicken and doughnuts that is Federal Donuts.
For their first foray into the NYC dining scene, Solomonov and Cook are splitting the difference between those two concepts and bringing their casual hummusiya, Dizengoff, to Chelsea Market.
The official opening day is May 25, but you can already roll up to the cheerful red counter for their remarkably silky chickpea-based dip. It’s as ancient a food as it gets, and while dedicated hummus bars have been popular in Israel for many years, they’re just now catching on here.
“On a very basic level, a hummusiya is a hummus and pickles restaurant,” explains Solomonov, who calls hummusiyas “an integral part of my life.”
“In Israel, hummus is eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s the Israeli people’s definition of comfort food, eaten by everyone.”
Dizengoff brings another, more casual layer to our understanding of Jewish cuisine, which has been broadening recently beyond jaw-dislocating pastrami sandwiches. In the East Village, Timna has been quietly turning out excellent seafood-focused fare (and its blooming bread served in a flower pot has rightly received acclaim, too) while Combina has pretty much taken over SoHo’s tapas scene with its Israel-meets-Spain plates of salt-cod doughnuts and persimmon carpaccio.
“Israeli cuisine spans so many different geographies and incorporates so many different flavors — hummus is just one (of many!) that we wanted to explore,” Solomonov says.
The restaurant will serve five kinds of hummus (several of them vegan) with seasonal additions like avocado with peanut harissa and hot ground spiced lamb, served with Dizengoff’s renown laffa bread and a selection of pickles.
New to the NYC location will be small salads called salatim, which traditionally begin meals in Israel. “They are not your typical leafy salad but rather, they are various vegetables served cooked or raw,” he says. “They also often have a good punch of acid and salt.”
While “staples” like eggplant and Moroccan carrot salads will be available all year round, expect changing flavors throughout the season. “Tabbouleh is a great example of a salad that changes seasonally — lately, we’ve been serving brussels sprouts tabbouleh with pears and walnuts.”
Also exclusive to this Dizengoff, and only at breakfast through 11:30 a.m., is shakshuka, a North African dish of poached eggs in a spicy tomato-based stew. To wash it all down, there are Israeli wines, local beers on tap and, for the warmer days to come, frozen lemonade spiked with mint and bourbon.
Dizengoff is now open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, with counter seating and standing tables. Tip: Hummus and salatim are available to go in pints ($9).