Balkan Streat, a new fast-casual street food joint serving burek, yeasted doughnuts, cevapi, and Balkan-style burgers, opens today, January 24, at 353 Sixth Avenue, near West Washington Place, in Greenwich Village. The counter-service restaurant comes from William Djuric, an alum of Bouchon Bakery, Gramercy Tavern, and Momofuku Ssam Bar.
After years of working in the entertainment industry, Djuric pivoted to culinary school following the death of his father. Djuric is of Serbian descent, and with Balkan Streat he’s partnering with Jason Correa, a longtime operational alum of the TAO Group, to create a menu that pays homage to his heritage, remixed for the current fast-casual landscape. The duo has brought in Milan Milijancevic, a Serbian baker from Belgrade’s Hotel Moskva to lead the Balkan baked goods program.
The result is a menu that pulls together both traditional and modern Balkan-style recipes that are personal to Djuric. “My father passing and my wife also being from that region, it reconnected me with my roots, and this was a way to do that,” he says. “I might not fully speak the language, growing up half Serbian, but I can speak the food.”
Set up like an all-day cafe, the menu is split into several categories: In the grill section, there’s cevapi (Balkan-style kebabs, sans sticks), with versions like the Belgrade (pork and veal) and Sarajevo variations (beef and lamb), served with onions, cabbage, and ajvar. There’s also pljeskavica, a Balkan-style beef burger with onions, and a stuffed version with kashkaval cheese and ham. During lunch and dinner, there are also more built-out plates, like stuffed pork schnitzel rolls with kashkaval cheese, goulash, and sarma, which are stuffed cabbage rolls with ground pork.
From the baked goods, Balkan Streat wanted to offer a morning alternative as ubiquitous croissants; they’re displayed in a heated grab ‘n go case. Inside there’s the classic phyllo-style burek (there are fillings like feta cheese, pickled cabbage and paprika, roasted red pepper, and cheeseburger), each served with a dill or paprika yogurt dip. “Whenever I’m in Belgrade, burek is my favorite for breakfast, it’s tangy, cheesy — so I am hoping people will respond to that.”
The restaurant will also serve yeasted doughnuts called krofne, with flavors like raspberry, pistachio, or Nutella. Down the line, they’re working on more nontraditional flavors.
A liquor license will kick-in in the coming weeks.
The restaurant has a capacity of 20, which a representative describes as having a “sculptural Brutalist kiosk” and murals of Balkan history. Despite Djuric’s restaurant pedigree, he wanted open with a fast-casual format not only to honor street food but also in a nod to how more New Yorkers are dining now.
Parts of Queens have no shortage of Balkan restaurants, but Balkan Streat is different for Manhattan, where the region’s food is underrepresented: “This project has been going on before I even knew it would happen. I spent my life every summer going to Serbia. The food we’re going to be producing is my childhood memories of wishing there were more places I could to get food like that in New York City,” says Djuric.
As for the name itself, a region marked by strife, Djuric felt it was important to acknowledge that though his father is Serbian, the food has roots in all of the Balkans, which includes countries like Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Albania: “Though all of our peoples may have not got along historically, our food is a way for us to connect, I wanted everyone in the region to feel represented.”
Before even opening Balkan Streat in Greenwich Village, Djuric has already signed on a second space in the East Village, at 145 Second Avenue, at East Ninth Street, which he describes as being more full-service, though still casual, with large format plates. He’s hoping to open in the spring.
It’s part of Djuric’s larger goals for Balkan Streat; he’s betting on Balkan “being the next big thing” in NYC fast casual.
Balkan Streat Greenwich Village is 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., from Tuesday through Sunday to start.