Craving the delectable taste of Israeli fast food? Look no further! A new Glatt eatery brings the vibrant flavors of shawarma and falafel right to your taste buds. Talia’s Steakhouse of Manhattan’s West Side celebrated the grand opening of its sister fleishig restaurant, Shawarma Shabazi, an Israeli food haven, earlier this summer, at 668 Amsterdam Avenue. I was privileged to attend the event alongside Simon Sebag, Jewish liaison to NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. The festivities drew the attention of several elected officials, the hierarchy of Mayor Eric’s Adams administration, and blessings from Rabbi Abe Friedman. 

Twenty-one years after the opening of Talia’s Steakhouse, named in honor of his daughter, Effie Nagar and his sons are overjoyed to launch their next venture. Shawarma Shabazi is a testament to the family’s dedication to kosher cuisine. For two decades, father and sons have honed cooking techniques and managerial operations. 

Shawarma Shabazi serves up authentic flavors that capture the essence of Middle Eastern cuisine giving over a true taste of tradition. The Nagars are proud of their unique twist on classic, authentic, glatt kosher Middle Eastern dishes. The flavorful shawarma, tasty falafel, and handmade dips satisfy any cravings for authentic Middle Eastern cuisine while dining-in or taking-out. The chef indulges in a culinary experience that transports guests straight to the streets of Israel. 

As a result of the pandemic’s impact on the restaurant industry, inflation, and dramatic rising costs of meat and produce, Talia’s Steakhouse, a white tablecloth sit-down, opened the Mediterranean takeout in a third of its premises. The new, fast-casual affordable shop counts delicious shawarma, falafel, sabich, and hummus amongst its delicacies. 

“We were able to survive the pandemic, and we ended up with a shawarma restaurant,” said proprietor Daniel Nagar, 26, a recent Cornell University graduate. Daniel’s love for the kitchen began by peeling potatoes at the age of 7. Twins Ben and Adam, 30, both IDF veterans, led Talia’s management team and kitchen operation and are eager for this new chapter. 

Shawarma Shabazi was born out of a passion for the rich heritage and delicious food found on the streets of Tel Aviv, where fast food is customarily consumed while standing up or on the go. Shabazi, Tel Aviv, named after Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, the 17th century arch-poet of Yemen, is a neighborhood that predates the formation of the State of Israel. Its streets are lined with authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, reminiscent of the new eating house. Shawarma Shabazi is inspired by this love and boasts a menu and atmosphere that bring out the authentic flavors and cultural traditions of the Middle East to your palate and table. 

Menashe Shapiro, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor of NYC offered, “As a resident of the neighborhood and as somebody who has spent countless hours here, I cannot begin to tell you how many Friday night dinners I’ve been here with a full table of friends, Effie has truly created a home for me and the entire neighborhood. We are so happy about this expansion and cannot be more grateful to you and proud that you’re opening and look forward to continuing to work together. As the mayor always says, ‘The city of New York is not coming back; the city is back!’” 

On that note, Effie watched as his children cut the ribbon, formally opening the new West Side staple. The crowd joyfully burst into applause and a rendition of Siman Tov U’Mazal Tov and David, Melech Yisrael. Thereafter, the band continued in Talia’s signature tradition within the establishment. 

 By Shabsie Saphirstein