Burek at Tony & Tina's, the Bronx
Local businessmen Nine and Nike Khatazi have owned Tony & Tina's Pizzeria for 6 years. Like a growing number of Italian restaurant owners they're Albanian, the result of a close cultural affinity. And while their pizza should be avoided, their burek ($4) should be on your agenda next time you hit Arthur Avenue.
In addition to the standard fare of slices and garlic knots, Tony and Tina's sell baklava and other pastries. But their only distinctively Albanian offering is burek. Three varieties—ground beef, spinach and cheese—come in pie-like slices while the fourth, pumpkin, is structured more like a spiral-shaped roll. For the complete experience, get a cup of their plain, strained yogurt ($1.50), for dipping.
Our clear favorite of the bunch was the pumpkin. Sticky and gooey, the bright orange puree was sweet and flavorful; the dough tasted like a cross between phyllo, with a supremely flaky exterior, and a croissant, when you got to the soft, buttery interior. We felt the heavier ground beef and creamy spinach fillings were equally as good as the other; which you should choose depends on your own preference, but definitely get the spinach if you're looking for a lighter snack. Our least favorite was the cheese, which was tasty but quite salty; it wasn't any different from your standard "dough and cheese" experience. All four were improved by the addition of the yogurt, which toned down the richness of the pumpkin burek's dough and sweetness of its filling, as well as the saltiness of the cheese.
Tony & Tina's
2483 Arthur Avenue, Bronx NY 10458 (map)