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Brooklyn Gains A New Levantine Bistro

Huda, replacing the beloved Edith's Eatery, is a pretty addition to a residential corner in Williamsburg.

Sitting on the corner of Leonard and Conselyea Streets in Williamsburg, Huda is a new Levantine restaurant celebrating the food of the Levant region, a historical term describing the eastern Mediterranean area that includes Palestine, Israel and other territories.

Since opening about a month after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, owner Gehad Hadidi was worried that the conflict in the region would impact the restaurant’s reception, but that hasn’t been the case. 

“The outpouring of support for Palestinian restaurants has been really, really positive,” Hadidi said. “We don't call ourselves a Palestinian restaurant, but the Levant includes Palestine and we've still been getting a lot of support from people.”

Gehad Hadidi, owner, and Anjuman Hossain, executive chef, at Huda. Photo: Hannah Berman/BK Reader

Huda’s executive chef, Anjuman Hossain, is excited to use food to tell a different story about the region than what usually gets told.

“A lot of the time, when you think of nations associated with the Levant, whether it be Syria, Palestine, Jordan, you think of violence,” she said. “The only time you hear those names is when you hear of war and fighting for democracy. But we're people too, and we eat and we have fun. So it’s nice to be like, ‘Hey, this is part of Levantine history as well.’” 

Hadidi is Syrian-American and was raised in Detroit. He chose to name the restaurant Huda after his childhood Arabic community center, which offered Arabic classes, after-school basketball programs and free babysitting. 

“You know, you come to New York, it's a different world. You're not with your family, you're kind of uprooted,” he said. “So part of this is trying to kind of create a newer version of a community center here, in the form of a restaurant and bar.”

Charred eggplant at Huda. Photo: Hannah Berman/BK Reader

The menu pays homage to Hadidi’s favorite Syrian dishes while also bringing in elements of chef Hossain's Bangladeshi heritage. With this menu, Hossain said she wanted to introduce dishes that New Yorkers wouldn’t normally see and present them in a way that felt poetic. This includes the blistered grape dish, a bunch of grapes served in a pool of tahini with feta and mint crumbled on top, the chef's riff on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Macarona bil toum, left, and kalamari mishwi at Huda. Photo: Hannah Berman/BK Reader

The well-stocked menu features a dish that Hossain and Hadidi cheekily named “cheap dates,” which is six whole dates (pits included!) that are soaked in cinnamon and paprika-infused ghee until they become gummy and start to taste like gingerbread. The macarona bil toum is a fluffy, sweet gnudi, like gnocchi made with ricotta instead of flour, served in a lemony sauce with a garlicky bite. Another standout is the shish barak, a Lebanese dish featuring beef dumplings in a yogurt broth finished with Aleppo oil, where the sourness of the yogurt perfectly offsets the meat for a bite that feels surprisingly light. 

Shish barak. Photo: Hannah Berman/BK Reader

Huda's drink menu, designed by Yaz Saloom, follows a similar logic to the food — it takes recipes that are familiar to New Yorkers and folds in Levantine flavors. Hadidi is particularly passionate about the Damascus, made with tequila reposado, plum bitters and a special jasmine flower cordial made in-house. 

“Jasmine is the national flower of Damascus, and you see it everywhere,” Hadidi said. “Growing up, my grandma had a big oil bucket with a big jasmine [plant] in it, and we would always throw [the flowers] off the balcony, 'cause they spin. So it was really great to have that come back and tie into a cocktail — which she would not approve of.” 

This year, Hadidi plans to continue juggling operating Huda and his other restaurant La Bonne Soupe, a popular Midtown French bistro. He is hoping to add outdoor seating and host community events, including movie nights featuring Arabic-language movies that are hard to access in America. 

Huda is located at 312 Leonard St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 and is open 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Tues. to Sat. 

Hannah Berman

About the Author: Hannah Berman

Hannah Berman is a Brooklyn-born freelance writer. She writes about food, culture, and nonprofit news, and runs her own grumpy food newsletter called Hannah is Eating.
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