Bessie's Best: Channeling Galilee in Brooklyn at Tanoreen

Tanoreen shines with class, soul, and great food. It’s the type of amazing family-run restaurant that flourish in New York’s underrated outer boroughs. Tanoreen is located in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, which many refer to as the heart of Brooklyn’s Arab community.

A friend familiar with the area took me here and described this place as an upscale Palestinian restaurant, calling chef Rawia Bishara one of those “old school cool chefs” who specializes in cuisine from Galilee, a region known for its olive oil. The chef herself makes rounds throughout the restaurant checking on patrons. I’m not an expert on this type of cuisine, but I recognize honest-to-goodness homestyle cooking when I taste it. This isn’t the kind of place where the flavor knocks you on the first bite, but after every bite, you want more.

Start with hummus and baba ghanouj. There’s something so different about those appetizers at a place like this. They taste so much fresher and cleaner. I’d hate to use the overused hipster word, but they’re artisanal in the sense that the flavor can’t be mass produced. The appetizers come with selection of breads covered in spices that intensify the taste of every item. Also get the crispy Halloumi Cheese. It’s not the prettiest dish, but texture and contours of flavor along with the pickled vegetables leave you craving for more.

The entrees themselves are huge. I recommend Fetti, chicken and rice with a yogurt-tahini sauce, garlic, almonds, toasted pita chips, and surrounded by a bed of parsley. The way the ingredients are in play remind me more of casserole rather than just a chicken over rice dish. Same with the Mansaf, my favorite dish here, a rice pilaf with lamb meat, yogurt, toasted almonds, and, of course, fresh herbs.

The dessert, Knafeh, is the knockout here: filo, kind of like a sweet doughy crumble, cover a soft warm sweet cheese topped with pistachios and an orange blossom syrup. If you left me alone with a whole portion of this (the small order is meant to be shared and probably has an insane number calories), I’d probably down it all with no regrets.

Pro-tip: It’s best to come to this restaurant with a group. The dishes are served family style and very generously-sized. You want to be able to try as many as possible.

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