Bronx Eats: Spinach, Feta, and Mint Burek at Dimo Pizzeria, Kingsbridge Heights
For a burekaphile like myself, the appearance of a new burek is an event that demands attention. So when reader Rob Starobin chimed in with news of a new burek in the far western reaches of Kingsbridge Heights, I knew I needed to check it out.
Like many burektorja in the Bronx, from Belmont to Van Nest, Dimo is built on the pre-existing business of a pizzeria. The phenomenon works on two obvious levels. Pizzerias already have ovens good for burek, and most of the burek in the borough are sold by Albanians, who feel a cultural affinity with Italy,* and some of whom fled to the country as refugees in the '90's.
*The same reason why the manager of an Arthur Avenue Italian restaurant like 089 is Albanian.
The burek ($3) is baked in large sheets and cut into squares, and it has fewer layers than what you'll find at Dukagjini. But you'll find a filling here that's much more unique.
When I arrived, Dimo had run out of meat burek. I settled for a slice of spinach and feta, which I almost always prefer over the beef. "A lot of people up here make it with spinach or cheese. I make it with both, together, because I think that's the best. Some people don't use cheese, others use cream cheese," the owner told me, "That's cutting corners."
The use of cream cheese at other Bronx burektorjas can give you the spinach filling a cream of spinach flavor profile; here it's more robust, with a slight creaminess and faint tanginess imbued by the cheese. The spinach is soft and well-seasoned but not overly doctored.
However, what marks this spinach and feta burek as unique in the borough (to my knowledge) is the use of "nenexhik," or mint, in the seasoning. As to whether or not this is a common seasoning in Albania, we can't say. But it certainly changes the dynamic of your everyday spinach and feta burek. Its cool, menthol flavor defines the filling. The lingering taste is so strong you might think the spinach were sautéed in sarsaparilla.
As for the phyllo? It lacked crispness. A flurry of shattered phyllo is a common consequence of biting into a good burek, but there was none of that here. While the spinach burek got increasingly soft as you dug in, there's no real buttery richness. Rob reports that it doesn't stand up well to delivery.
Still, while I wouldn't go out of my way for this burek, it's a nice addition to a neighborhood without much destination food around. Just don't fall for the pizza, which looks as limp as can be.
318 West 231st Street, The Bronx, NY 10463 (map)
About the author: Chris Crowley is the author of the Bronx Eats and Anatomy of A Smorgasburg Pop Up columns. Follow him on Twitter, if you'd like. In person, your best bet is the window seat at Neerob, or waiting in line at the Lechonera La Piranha trailer.