menu menu Bloomberg Business called Dizengoff NYC one of the most exciting openings of the season. (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss / From the Grapevine)

I checked out the new hummus restaurant taking New York City by storm

Dizengoff NYC opened in Chelsea Market a few weeks ago and now I know why it's hard to find a seat.

In 2014, Israeli restaurant Dizengoff opened to thunderous Internet applause in Philadelphia. The restaurant, which is modeled after Israeli food stalls, is particularly famous for its homemade hummus.

Owner Michael Solomonov certainly has the right credentials to make some earth-shaking hummus. He won the James Beard Award (often called the Oscars of the restaurant industry) for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2011. A few weeks ago, he won the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook and Book of the Year.

Solomonov and Steve Cook just opened a second Dizengoff location in New York's Chelsea Market a few weeks ago. Since I live in Brooklyn, I decided to check it out.

Workers rush to make hearth-baked pita, Israeli pickles and chopped salad.Workers rush to make hearth-baked pita, Israeli pickles and chopped salad. (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss/From the Grapevine)

The place was packed. As in, "I can't walk from one side of the room to the other" packed. Granted, this was Chelsea Market (a popular mall / food court) on a summer Saturday, but still.

“It’s been like a zoo every day,” Emily Seaman, the restaurant’s chef, explained when I asked her about the crowds. Seaman has been working with Israeli cuisine ever since she joined Zahav, another restaurant Solomonov runs, four years ago. According to Emily, Mediterranean sauces require only a few ingredients such as lemons, olives and surprisingly versatile tahini to “make the magic happen.”

I finally made it to the front of the line and checked out the menu. Too ... many ... good ... sounding ... things ... I thought, struggling to make a selection like a kid in an ice cream shop.

DizengoffRotating Israeli salads, Israeli-style frozen mint lemonade and craft beer were on the menu. (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss/From the Grapevine)

I settled on shakshuka, a breakfast dish consisting of poached eggs in tomato sauce that happens to be one of my favorite foods. Sadly, I was informed that Dizengoff NYC only serves shakshuka for breakfast, and alas, it was lunchtime. Stupid social mealtime norms.

Luckily, hummus is always on the menu, so I ordered a hummus platter: hummus with an egg, chopped salad and freshly baked pita. And by freshly baked, I mean I watched them bake it. It was probably for the best that I didn't get my hands on the shakshuka; I'd probably feel ridiculous if I'd gone to Dizengoff NYC without trying its famous hummus.

hummus platterDizengoff hummus was modeled on the hummus sold in the many stalls popular on Israeli streets. (Photo: Ilana E. Strauss/From the Grapevine)

I couldn't find a seat, so I went off to sneakily eat my Israeli Mediterranean treasures in a different part of Chelsea Market. The food was, as I expected, delicious. If you've only ever eaten grocery store hummus, you owe it to yourself to find somewhere that cooks it fresh, or make your own, because the difference between Dizengoff's hummus and grocery brands is pretty staggering.

Apparently, I'm not the only one to have that thought. “People are making trips here from all over the city," Emily told me.

MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:

Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Chefs & Restaurants, Food News