'Balkan' on Serious Eats
While I wouldn't call the Balkan pies at Bensonhurst's Burektore Illyria bad by any means, I'm not in any rush to go back for them. But I would return for the cevapi.
If you're unfamiliar with Balkan food and what cultural intricacies differentiate Bosnian and Serbian cuisine, you're not alone. There is little to no Balkan representation in D.C.'s food scene, that is, until last month when chef Ivan Iricanin (Masa 14 and El Centro partner) opened up Ambar on Barracks Row.
Bosnian burek house Ukus in Astoria is a treasure trove of Balkan eats: massive, excellent burek of course, and a chicken soup I'll be sipping once a week when the weather turns cool, but the Cevapi stuffed in pita may be my favorite. Get ready for some seriously garlicky kebabs.
Saro Bistro is as personal a restaurant as you will likely find in New York in 2012, the singular vision of Eran Elhalal. In a ćevapčići-sized room, Elhalal serves "the cuisine of long lost empires." For him, that's the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman-inflected Balkan comfort food his grandmother (whose nickname graces the restaurant) served him while growing up in Israel. It's a complicated, delicious backstory, and one he's happy to share.