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May 22, 2005 12:54 PM

Gottlieb's In Williamsburg

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If you want to throw cholestrolic caution to the wind, do as Sharonlebewohl and I did and treat yourself to Yiddishe "dim sum" at Gottliebs!

The other night we went there and had a little of this and a little of that...Sauerkraut w/ pieces of extra greasy Corned Beef, Noodles and Cabbage, Matzo ball soup like my Bubby made(I believe her neshoma got an aliyah from the soul connection those flavors created) and last but not least, a big fat crumbly parve cookie with sprinkles and a blob of chocolate dropped on top!

Is it healthy? NO! Is is an asthetically pleasing place? NO! As a woman would you feel comfortable there wearing anything other than a tzniut outfit there? NO! Could the sweet shy red-headed bearded guy behind the counter be any more aidel (gentle)? NO! Should you use their bathrooms there? NO! But Gottlieb's is the place where the even the non-Jewish workers pronounce words with a Chassidishe accent and is there anything more intriguing and wonderful to see as that? NO!

Gottlieb's is a simple deli with simple holy Yids (almost entirely guys) that is worth the trip to Willy'b! They are not open past 9PM ordinarily so plan accordingly. And THAT's my sermon.

amy t;)

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  1. Funny you should mention Gottlieb's, since it was the subject of some less than stellar references in the NY Observer paean to Prime Grill (see link below), which someone alerted this Board to a few days ago.

    Being originally a Boroparkischa yid, I never heard of Gottlieb's until I started reading the favorable posts (mostly yours) on this Board. I figured I would check it out solo before bringing Aunt Shoshana (who has much higher standards than I do). But the last time I cruised along Lee Avenue in "Villemsboorg" I couldn't find it. Who knew it would be on Roebling Street?

    Anyhow, your latest endorsement has inspired me to try again (maybe after losing some of the excess baggage I picked up over Pesach).


    14 Replies
    1. re: uncle moishy

      Thanks for the link...long live GOTTLEIB'S!

      amy t;)

      1. re: amy t.

        I've been singing G's praises for some time. Do a search and you'll see! I wish I could get back there tonight!

        1. re: DeisCane

          What a blast from the past! I last remember going to Gottlieb's about 8-9 years ago and the food was total shtetl fare. I had goulash there, as well as the obligatory kigel/choolent/kishke...

          I would comment that I have taken friends there who hated the place, but that is not a knock on Gottlieb's, rather they had no appreciation for this cuisine. Also, the decor is downright dingy.

          However, I agree with the above comments, there is no better place to dine on classic Eastern European Jewish cuisine.

          1. re: velorutionary

            To be a bit contrarian, it's really Hungarian food more than Eastern European.

            1. re: DeisCane

              Eastern Europe includes Hungary, but not vice versa. Gulas is Hungarian, but cholent is not exclusively so.

              The Chassidishe community in Williamsburg is not exclusively Hungarian, it is a healthy mix of Carpatian [Galicia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine] and Hungarian, Polish, Romanian with a wee bit of Russian.

              The "Heimishe" cuisine is reflective of many of the above cultures, with a strong Hungarian accent.

              I can't point out any obvious un-Hungarian dishes at Gottlieb's because I have not been there in so long.

              1. re: velorutionary

                No Hungarian would admit to being part of Eastern Europe. It's Central Europe of bust! :-)

                As for cholent, Hungary is the only European country I've ever been to where goyim eat it.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  Don't you remember 2nd Av Deli's claim that their chulent beats any Frenchman's cassoulet? My inference is that cassoulet is a chulent-ish dish eaten by French goyim!

                  1. re: uncle moishy

                    How could I foget that potato/hard/boiled egg/custardy "bomb"!Sprinked w/ salt, it was a satisfying and very very dense in trueAshkenaz heavy food fashion...a stop-your-stomach-from-growling-good dish!

                  2. re: DeisCane

                    Well, Hungarians from Budapest will agree with you, but think Miskolc or other areas closer to Ukriane...

                    I am sitting here smiling thinking of the Ingarische Goyim chowing on cholent. You made my day, Deiscane.

                    1. re: velorutionary

                      BTW, Hungarian cholent (solet) does NOT have any potatoes (GASP!). Hunkies would be shocked at the concept. (My MIL certainly was the first time I brough it up). Since I don't like cholent--Hunky or otherwise--it's not much of an issue.

                      1. re: DeisCane

                        Gee, I never noticed that. Our cholent (my mother's or my grandmother's) never had potatoes. We're Hungarian. Aha! (A-cha?)

        2. re: uncle moishy

          Just a note: it's "kudos", not "kudo".

          1. re: Zev Sero

            You are correct! I looked it up in my American Heritage. Kudos is a singular word (even though it sounds plural) and the geniuses who wrote the dictionary went so far as to suggest that it should be pronounced so as not to give the impression that it is plural. In other words, pronounce is as ku-dose, not ku-doze.

            This reminds me of an old bit (Sam Levenson, I think) in which it was noted that a common characteristic of traditional Jewish (Eastern European) cuisine is to refer to certain foods only in the plural. Who ever heard of a single kreple? or tzimma? or shlishka? (Jewish humor has certainly evolved from then to Seinfeld, hasn't it?)

            1. re: uncle moshy

              Well, one can indeed have a single krepchel, or a single shlishke. I don't care for kreplach, and confine my consumption to one krepchel, three times a year; and sometimes I'll decide that kubbeh is a close enough substitute.

              But tzimmes is not a plural, it's a contraction of "tzim essen" (along with the food), and was originally a generic term for side dishes, before coming to mean a specific side dish. And tzimmes is another trad food that I don't care for (unless it's fleishig, which is rather rare).

        3. Amy, you forgot the piece de resistance. We ate something that was kugel like but like no kugel I've ever eaten. It was made with slices of hard boiled egg between slices of fried potatoes. I have to go back and take notes so that I can make it myself.

          9 Replies
          1. re: sharon


            That's probably a pareve/fleishig form of rakot krumpli--layered potatoes. The full dish is layers of hard boiled eggs, cheese, butter, onions, sour cream, potatoes and sausages/hot dogs. We make it dairy with soy bacon and tofu dogs. It's a great Hungarian dish.

            1. re: DeisCane

              Can you post your recipe? I'd love to try this, using Morningstar Farms sausages or something like that.

              1. re: Clarissa


                We actually tried the MF links once and we didn't like them. The flavor needed is closer to hot dogs than that kind of breakfast sausage, imo. I don't have all the details of the recipe with me, but here are the basics:
                5-6 boiled and peeled potatoes, waxier varieties work better than baking potatoes, cut into thick slices
                2-3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
                1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced, but not diced (you can sweat them a bit, which adds richness to the flavor)
                3-4 strips of MF facon (fake bacon, get it?), cooked about 1/3 of the way in the pan, cut into quarters
                2-3 tofu dogs, chopped into 1/2" pieces, cooked slightly in the pan
                1/2 lb of white cheese--cheddar or jack--cut into not-so-thick chunks (approx 1/2"x1/2"x1/6")
                4-6 tablespoons of sour cream
                1 stick of butter

                Grease a glass oven safe pot with the butter.
                Begin layering potatoes, then cheese, a few pats of butter, a few strips of onion and 2 tablespoons of sour cream and a couple chunks of tofu dogs and facon and about a half an egg each layer. Repeat until the top. The potatoes act as the pasta does in lasagne, creating a barrier between layers. That's why waxier potatoes work better. They hold up better. After you get to the top of the pot, put on an 2 strips of uncooked facon on top and drizzle light olive oil over the whole thing.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  This sounds great. My only question is about the facon (love that word). I find that my facon gets pretty soggy and mealy when used in recipes, so what I usually do is cook it until crisp and add to whatever right before serving, so there's some texture as well as flavor. When you use it inside of this dish, does it completely fall apart or is it still obvious?

                  Also, I love my onions cooked until caramelized. If I did so for this dish, would it be too overpowering?

                  This sounds great. My mother cooks various Hungarian dishes using potatoes -- Paprikash potatoes, and paprikash potatoes with hot dogs. Also, terrific sausage and peppers, Hungarian-style. I haven't yet tried to convert these to dairy, but I should.

                  1. re: Clarissa

                    Yeah, don't caramelize the onions; it's too much. As for the facon, as I said, cook them about halfway and you should be fine. You could go further, I guess, based on your experiences. The ones on top get baked to be really crunchy, so that's why they're better raw. Oh yeah, I totally forgot, bake it for about 40 minutes at 350 (when the potatoes on top get a little brown), then broil for about 5 minutes to make the top crusty.
                    The sausage and peppers dish is probably Lecso, a favorite of mine. It is fine without the sausages. You can put in a little thyme, which adds a touch of smokiness.

                    1. re: DeisCane

                      If you want a meat-free lecso, use Tofurky Italian Sauasages cut into 1/2 inch rounds and pan fried, in place of sausages. It has good texture and flavor, though it does not flavor the lecso as would ordinary sausages.

                    2. re: Clarissa

                      my mother and grandmother are as hungarian as they come, they make this my favorite dish all the time, it is about 12 boiled potatoes, 12 boiled eggs, a container sour cream, a pack or pack and a half of shredded mozzarella and chedder half a tub of butter and bake, it is the best

                2. re: DeisCane

                  Makes me wish that my parents were Hungarian. I am about to learn everything I can about this dish. Anyone want to come for dinner and taste my Rakot Krumpli? I will make it dairy with the soy products. I would love to know how authentic it tastes. The stuff at Gotiiebs was heavenly.

                  1. re: sharon


                    What's your address? :-)

                    Wait, my Budapester wife might not be too happy about that! Seriously, let me/us know how it goes.

              2. I have always been curious about Gottleibs. Ever since college days when I worked afternoons/evenings in Williamsburg. It was always a place swarmed with men. My husband has talked fondly about the place.
                Is this a place that we can eat as a family? Or would we have to do take out and picnic somewhere. I am so not up on the yes's and no-no's in williamsburg when it comes to dining.

                2 Replies
                1. re: hg

                  It's pretty small, so it could be tight with a family. It has a take-out couter so the picnic idea could work. However, I don't think it would be a problem to eat there as a family--it's VERY casual.

                  1. re: DeisCane

                    As for heimische food, I wish that there were fleischig Kosher places serving typical shtetl cooking of Ukraine, Poland, Russia, etc. I have walked past a treif Polish home-cooking restaurant in the East Village, and wondered if a Kosher version exists anywhere in Brooklyn.

                2. Anyone been recently? Still good?

                  1 Reply
                  1. i was recently there - old school deli, food was exactly what i expected - nothing more, nothing less. i had the stuffed cabbage and a pastrami sandwich - could've come out of any bubby's kitchen. prices weren't super cheap but relatively reasonable. not a destination for me, but if i'm in the area and hungry, i'll definitely stop in.