A new Jewish diaspora restaurant is popping up at Paulie Gee’s through October. Founded by Brooklynite Elyssa Heller, Edith’s, named after her great aunt, will serve wood-fired bagels, salted caramel challah knots, and more, Thursdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I wanted to really form a dining concept that’s both comforting and interesting, something that people can really engage with and ultimately form a community institution,” says Heller, who partnered with pastry chef Caroline Schiff to develop Edith’s opening menu. “The Jewish diaspora spans the globe and is an important part of our history as Jewish people; it also defines our culinary traditions. There’s Jewish food from all over the world and the desire to create authentic food that resonates with people today gave birth to Edith’s.”
Oddly enough, Heller thought of the concept of Edith’s before learning that her great aunt owned a Brooklyn delicatessen in the 1950s. She’s been digging through family archives to find photos of the restaurant, and though none have surfaced, old recipes have. “Her whitefish inspired our smoked trout recipe and hopefully if we are able to offer takeout-friendly versions of her recipes we can add her famous noodle kugel, blintz souffle, rugelach a la Edith, and her famous cabbage soup.” Many recipes were scribbled on paper plates, note cards and napkins, which Heller has been working to decipher.
Early on in pandemic lockdown. Heller and Schiff used the old Franny’s pizza oven at Fausto in Prospect Heights to recipe test. They were looking for a space for a pop-up, and Paulie, who is half-Sicilian, half-Jewish, jumped on the idea. Plus, Edith’s fit into Greenpoint’s history. “Our bagels and latkes are inspired by two traditional polish foods, the obwarzanek krakowski and the placki ziemniaczane,” Heller says. “So to have the opportunity to partner with Paulie and celebrate these foods in a traditionally Polish neighborhood just made sense.”
While Covid-19 drastically shifted Heller’s plans for Edith’s, a concept she invested a large portion of her personal savings in, she’s found a silver lining in the challenges. “People are now more open minded to new concepts, pop up dining and supporting their local community to keep their favorite institutions alive,” she says. “Restaurants also just need new ways to generate revenue. Normally, we probably wouldn’t be able to partner with Paulie since he has such a busy business, but given the impact on all restaurants, we were able to partner on this venture and bring it to life for the first time in his institutional pizzeria.”
Edith’s will start service on Thursday, August 13, with a walk up window for takeout or self-service outdoor dining on Greenpoint Avenue. Takeout can also be pre-ordered on EdithsBK.com or for delivery via Caviar.