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Feb 21, 1999 06:53 AM

Old time Bronx spinach borekas (boyos)

  • e

Does anyone have the recipe for the spinach borekas
that were sold on Arthur Ave. in the 1950's ? Published
recipes in Sephardic cookbooks don't compare in my

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  1. Will you settle for a close cousin of bourekas? There's
    an Albanian pizzeria on Arthur Avenue (north of the
    commercial area) that makes fantastic Albanian bureks.
    Cheese, spinach, or meat. Fantastic. It's called Tony &
    Tina's (I'm going to include a burek round-up in the
    next edition of my book...I'm nuts about the things).

    One member of the meat/spinach/cheese-pie family I've
    had trouble finding since Graffitti Pizza Cafe closed
    is Bulgarian banizzas. Anyone know where to find them


    6 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      we dig these tasty delights as well. thx for the local info on bakerys. if any of ya'll are in jerusalem, hit: Angel. Angel is a fabulous bakery with many many varietys. man they're good.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Wow - a 10-year-old thread!

        Jim - you omitted one VERY special burek at Tony & Tina's - PUMPKIN...perhaps it was out of season when your post came out, but those, IMO, top them all. Put one in your Halloween goody-bag.

        I remember your posting about great bureks when the Albanian place on Church Avenue was alive and cooking.

        1. re: Jim Leff

          I so have to disagree with you. I had them and they are god awful. I was raised on borekas. Since my grandparents passed away the only one who makes the true boreka is Paula Stevens. She is the best

          1. re: movie75814

            Jim posted on Tony and Tina's in 1999. A lot could have changed since then.

            Tony & Tina's Pizzeria
            2483 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

            1. re: squid kun

              Don't know what has changed, but why do you find them to be god awful?

              I happen to really like their burek, but I know very little about the food to be honest. Please be more specific, saying you have a more experienced palette won't help ;). But, hey for $2.50, I find them to be a much more satisfying mid-day snack than their beyond sub-par pizza. The beef isn't Niman, but...


              1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                The reason i say that is because what they are saying is a boreka is not a boreka . It does not look like one or taste like one. I willonly get from paula stevens, she is the best bar none

        2. c
          Couldn't vouchsafe for Bronx borecas...

          But - if you don't mind trekking to Rego Park Queens,
          a very satisfying array may be gathered at the quirkly
          named "Oriental Knishes" at 63-79 Saunders St (a
          block off Queens Blvd and near to 63rd Drive).

          Beautifuly browned, crisp-tender shells are available
          filled with spinach, potato, or (my favorite)
          eggplant, and phyllo wrapped potato knishes are also
          available. Kosher of course.

          Now, calling ahead is definitely warranted 718-459-
          7276 to insure supply (as the burecas are made to
          order in limited daily batches), but I've been lucky
          to date just dropping by when able and scrounging up
          whatever leftovers are available.

          One really bothersome facet to this otherwise charming
          outpost is that there used to be a wonderfully
          talented gent there who made the most amazing flat,
          round, hard shell burecas stuffed with an amazing
          concoction of well sauteed onions bound with just
          enough potato to keep the whole thing together. He's
          gone five years now, and I'd give anything to track
          down those onion mad bites.

          37 Replies
          1. re: Couldn't vouchsafe for Bronx borecas...
            liliana junio

            Now if you really like boyos de espinaca which has a
            completely different dough that that of burekas, I'll
            send you "one" by mail.

            Liliana (burekas and boyos is a favorite of sephardic
            jews and I grew up with them, actually I made some
            boyos on
            Sunday, but the "masa" was not very crunchy.

            1. re: Couldn't vouchsafe for Bronx borecas...

              The store you referred to as "Oriental Knishes" is
              called PaulaStevens Burecas. The store changed its
              name five or six years ago. PaulaStevens makes the
              best knishes in NYC. Her knishes (also called
              burecas) come in potato, spinach and cheese, cheese,
              kasha and eggplant flavors and are wrapped either in
              filo dough or a pastry like baked dough.
              Her knishes are hand made fresh daily. Real
              elegant. The Giorgio Armani of knishes. Other better
              known knish makers (like Stahl's and Knish Nosh)
              cannot measure up. I know. I've had 'em all, knish
              lecher that I am. Call in advance. The store is
              somewhat out of the way in Rego Park and you wouldn't
              want to make the trip and get shut out. I usually
              order a dozen. The round filos are the best. Potato
              and also spinach w cheese. Good luck. Oh yeah. She
              also makes a great apple strudel.

              1. re: kris
                Laura Greenberg

                Does this great baker mail her knishes to California. Please let me know. Thanks, Laura.

                1. re: Laura Greenberg

                  When I was in Florida, I came across a David's Buereka's near Plantation, he claims that he used to run the store in Rego Park with an older man, Eli. I know that he ships anywhere and have to look for his business card. His sesame cookies were so wonderful that I brought a pound home with me on the plane. What do you guys call them? My grandma used to make them and call them something like "dresha's". She was a Gabay/Danon from Walton Avenue in the Bronx. Boy, do I miss her cooking.

                  1. re: Laura Greenberg

                    When I was in Florida, I came across a David's Buereka's near Plantation, he claims that he used to run the store in Rego Park with an older man, Eli. I know that he ships anywhere and have to look for his business card. His sesame cookies were so wonderful that I brought a pound home with me on the plane. What do you guys call them? My grandma used to make them and call them something like "dresha's". She was a Gabay/Danon from Walton Avenue in the Bronx. Boy, do I miss her cooking.

                    1. re: Laura Greenberg

                      When I was in Florida, I came across a David's Buereka's near Plantation, he claims that he used to run the store in Rego Park with an older man, Eli. I know that he ships anywhere and have to look for his business card. His sesame cookies were so wonderful that I brought a pound home with me on the plane. What do you guys call them? My grandma used to make them and call them something like "dresha's". She was a Gabay/Danon from Walton Avenue in the Bronx. Boy, do I miss her cooking.

                      1. re: Maxine

                        My grandmother made the same cookies--I thought they were called 'ruskas'--sounds close to 'dreshas'. She lived near the Grand Concourse and she was an outstanding cook. She made the burecas which were so delicious. However, I remember she made them as a square filled pastry--aren't burecas supposed to be half moon?

                        1. re: HMatalon

                          I bought a pound of the cookies yesterday in Rego Park. Paula calls them biscocho's but also mentioned another name with an R. They are handmade, and absolutely to die for. I also bought two cheese boreka's and will try them tonight. A previous poster said if you stop in you can get what ever is left over, and I did. She was so nice and to find that stuff handmade is unbelieveable. I miss the fretada's, mena's, fasula (green beans/tomatoe sauce) and a pink rice - the good old days. What was your grandmother's last name? My grandmother was Suzanne Gabay, married Max Danon and then Fred Calatchi after Max died. They were friends with the Sabahs, Taragons, Aboulafias, and Policars. Also Pollitti. Anyone sound familiar.

                          1. re: Maxine

                            Well once again I went to Paula's and came home extremely happy. I got a pound of biscocho's and a 1/2 dozen bureca's. She is a lovely woman, the store is IMMACULATE, she puts love of sephardic cooking into the ingredients which is why her food tastes so good. I didn't even let her close the cookie box when I had my hand in it to eat one. If anyone is interested here is the info:
                            Paula Stevens 63-79 Saunders Street, Rego Park, NY
                            One block of Queens Boulevard. Phone 718 459-7276 - closed Saturday. Give her a try.

                            1. re: Maxine

                              I heard paula is out of business where else can you buy bureca's

                              1. re: mike

                                "I heard paula is out of business where else can you buy bureca's"

                                She's not out of business. We just finishing eating a batch of her otherworldly burecas and outstanding Hamentashen which she makes seasonally. She told me that for now, she's doing deliveries and mail orders only. She moved from her Rego Park store to a wholesale bakery operation, where she bakes once or twice a week. Paula is a highly talented baker and her products are top of the line handmade artisinal goods. Give her products a try. She's kept her same telephone number throughout this phase of her career.

                      2. re: Laura Greenberg

                        I know David's in Florida would because he said he would ship them to NY. I just put his business card away but I am sure if you did a search on the net of Plantation in Florida, you could find him. I just went to Paula's yesterday and bought a pound of cookies - they are exceptional. I don't think she would ship, she appears to do all the baking by hand and has her hands full. Good luck.

                        1. re: Maxine

                          correction: Paula Stevens will ship, Borekas, sesame cookies to you -- they are out of this world
                          she is at 63-79 Saunders Street, Rego Park 11374
                          phone number 718 459-7276
                          the store is hers and she does everything herself. Baking, cleaning, sales, shipping -- go there you won't be disappointed.

                          1. re: Maxine

                            A few days ago, a co-worker brought a wonderful zucchini and potato souffle/pie sort of thing from this Bureca place you mention. The pie was large enough to feed 10 people or so. It was gone in about 5 minutes. Have you had this?

                            1. re: GHill

                              It was probably a fretada. My grandmother used to make spinach with kashkaval cheese/eggs, a tomato/cheese/egg one that was out of this world, leek and squash are also popular. They are like a quiche without a crust.

                      3. re: Couldn't vouchsafe for Bronx borecas...
                        Leonard Benardo

                        I just rediscovered this place after being (quality) knish-less for the past decade. My Pop used to take me to the (I think) original place off the Grand Concourse when I was a kid. He called it Boyeto (sp?). It moved, with the wonderful man whose name I've forgotten, to Rego park around 1980. Does anyone remember the original owner's name or the street where it was located on the Concourse?

                        Anyhow, the new (now 5 years) owner, Paula, is a gem and her exceptionally clean establishment (not a strong suit before) and tremendous baking keeps the tradition perfectly alive.

                        Long live the Sephardic Knish!
                        Leonard Benardo

                        1. re: Leonard Benardo

                          The original and best place for borekas was just west of the Concourse on 169th Street.

                          1. re: Leonard Benardo

                            I grew up in The Bronx and remember the Boyero very well. They were my neighbors. It was Sam Benrubi & Albert Houli. They moverd to Rego Park, as did all the Bronx Sephardics, and opened up on Saunders Street. They made the best bourekas, roskitas (sesame cookies) and roska bread (round and a bit sweet). I as well wish I had their recipe. I make my own now but they just aren't the same. Their children live in new jersey and I have been on the hunt to see if they still had the recipe.

                            1. re: skush2

                              The Rego Park bureca place that was on Saunders Street in the 90's up to two years ago, that Mr. Bernardo, Vouchsafe and many others on this thread referred to in their posts does mail order. She's always had a national mail order following.

                              Look her up. I think they're the best in the city.

                              1. re: pizmet

                                so . . . this saunder's street place still exists, or no? I recall seeing some bakeries and things just off 63rd ave but never knew of these secret places. can anyone confirm, and, with the address or is it the same as the post from 1999?

                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  Paula Stevens, the Bureca place -formerly on Saunders street- now does mail order and deliveries. Same phone # -(718) 459-7276. The current Jewish Bakery on Saunders Street (G&S) is not affiliated with Paula Stevens, but will try to sell you their crummy version of a bureca, in a lame attempt to capitalize on the talent and expertise of the previous tenant, Paula Stevens.

                                  1. re: pizmet

                                    ah ok; yes I've definitely seen a bakery there and it didn't look interesting at all. also, saw a rather sad looking bakery on austin street, around 65th or 66th st

                              2. re: skush2

                                Have you been successful tracking down the original Benrubi-Houli boureka recipe (or any part of it), and if so, willing to share it? I've been trying to reproduce it for 45 years with only partial success.

                                Elliot Piperno July 7, 2009 8:46AM

                                1. re: epip

                                  If you still cant recreate it after 45 years, why don't you buy it? What are some of the better burecas and boyos you've purchased recently?

                                  1. re: pizmet

                                    My interest is not in any boureka but specifically in the original Benrubi recipe for sentimental reasons. Their texture, flavor and flakiness was unique.

                                    My favorite store-bought one is the Balkan BUREK, a variant of the the Sephardic BOUREKA of Salonika and Izmir. The Balkan restaurant DJERDAN in NY (W 38th ST betw. 7th & 8th usually makes excellent ones if they're eaten soon after they come out of the oven. Best to call ahead (212-921-1183).

                                    1. re: epip

                                      I remember the boreka store on 169th street. My grandparents, Fanny and Raphael Benveniste lived across the street. My grandmother made fantastic borekas and boyos but when she didn't have time, we bought them from the store. Definitely will try the food at Djerdan.

                                      1. re: Borekajoy

                                        I grew up on 170th and Grant.
                                        Many of my friends were Sephardic
                                        I had their borekas and other goodies.
                                        Down here In Hollywood r several bakeries but none compare

                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                          hi, i too grew up on 170 th and grant 1337 grant ave, my name is irving. i am now 70 years old,and remember the boyero on 169 th st.they were good friends of my parents,mary and joe abraham.. mom was from salonika,pop was from izmir. i speak greek, and djudesmo espaniol..i am so much into my heratige and culture, i even had a turkish middle eastern band for 30 years.. by the way my family thinks i make the best burekas, and biscochos around.. nice talking to you..irv

                                          1. re: bigirv

                                            I am 68 years old-retired, widow living in Hallandale Beach-
                                            There is a large Sephardic community in Hollywood-

                                            I am Ashkenazi but had many friends that were Sephardic.
                                            Did you know Sammy and Manny Ezraty, Iris and Sandra Krauss, Zafira Alfaso(she lived on Sheridan and 169th? I think they were from Turkey.

                                      2. re: epip

                                        Epip it is not a benrubi recipe it is a Houli recipe which was made by my grandmother who would be willing to share the recipe with you!

                                  2. re: skush2

                                    Hi, albert and diamond houli are my grandparents. My grandfather passed away a couple of years ago but my grandmother who was actually cooked the borekas is still around and we would be happy to give you the recipe.

                                    1. re: houlia

                                      Thank you houlia. Am most appreciative. I can be reached at

                                      1. re: houlia

                                        I also would love the recipe for the dough to make the boyos. Unfortunately we will never be able to reproduce the boyos of 10-15 years ago. The main reason is that the Spinach and Egg Plant (Hondrazio?) of old have been hybridized to remove the tartness in the spinach and egg plant. Spinach is now sweet, flat not curly and has no sandiness. Egg plant also is sweet and does not have to be soaked to remove the bite. We now have to work harder once we have a great dough recipe to duplicate the flavor we remember in boyos of the past. .

                                        1. re: houlia

                                          Houlia-- Would you like me to phone your grandmother Diamond Houli? If not, what else do you suggest I do to avail myself of her kind offer? I have eaten many of her borekas decades ago and look forward to eating them again.

                                          1. re: houlia

                                            Just a quick request that you post a thread on the Home Cooking board: with the recipe, rather than emailing it to people individually. That was everyone who is interested can benefit from the information. Thanks!

                                        2. re: Leonard Benardo

                                          Leonard i like to ask you are you related to the Benado family. That is my last name and my dads name was Leon

                                        3. re: Couldn't vouchsafe for Bronx borecas...

                                          Paula is the ultimate best. She makes them just like my grandmother and talking to her is like talking to my grandmother. I have to call her soon and order borekas and biscos

                                        4. Paula Stevens is no longer in Rego Park. She no longer has a store front but is doing a brisk mailorder business. Her new address is Paula Stevens Ltd., PO box 350934, Brooklyn, NY 11235. She still has the old phone # 718-459-7276 and still make to order.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Sirgeorge

                                            This is so intriguing. Can you give me some advice (size, varieties, minimum quantities, whatever)? I'd be grateful.

                                            1. re: Amy Mintzer


                                              Why not call her. She will give you all information.

                                              1. re: Tay

                                                Paula Stevens Ltd does not have a websit. Call her for all info.

                                            2. Well we are eating boyos tonight at home and they are delicious! I use just five ingredients, flour, water to make the dough (must be dough with gluten like white flour), dip them (in ball form) in oil for an hour or more, roll out each ball, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fold over, sprinkle a little more and stretch to a circle, fill with fresh baby spinach (crushed in the hand to make it dense) and sprinkle a pinch more parmesan cheese, roll them up, maybe add a dab of oil to the top. Bake high at about 475 degrees until crunchy golden brown. mmmmmmmmmmmm!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dmilber

                                                showoff! sounds amazing tho, wow. will need to give it a go; the recipe seems simple enough! how long do they go in? about 10-12 min? and how big each ball when going into the oil?

                                              2. Are the boyos once sold on Arthur Avenue any relation to the yoyos still sold at a few old-line Italian joints, such as Clemente's, on Ave. T. in Brooklyn?

                                                Clemente's Fine Food
                                                138 Ave T, Brooklyn, NY 11223