I’ve by no means observed branzino glance relatively like this, like some historic, jewel-encrusted weapon unearthed from volcanic ash, prickly with glistening shards, overwhelmed obsidian and olivine. Steam rises from the fish’s mouth, an extended, pensive exhale.
The armor — cracked wheat, cumin, allspice and garlic, blackened over charcoal — crumbles on the knife. It’s lemon-bright with a faint, corrective bitterness from its dalliance with fireplace. Inside of, the flesh is immaculate, as juicy and delicate as you could want.
This can be a grand dish to devour within the humble white-tile storefront of Little Egypt in Ridgewood, Queens. Up entrance, a cluster of tables are set with plastic black damask position mats and electrical candles; within the again, grocery cabinets may also be learn like a library, a scholarship of fava beans and black molasses.
Nashaat Youssef, the chef, opened Little Egypt two years in the past along with his sister, Nagwa Hanna, a chemist with a sideline in pastry. Ridgewood has been his house since he arrived in the USA in 1991. He grew up in Alexandria, Egypt’s biggest seaport, and spent a decade cooking at a cafe steps from the docks. In New York, he took a detour, operating for a limousine corporate, earlier than deciding to go back to what he liked.
Within the entrance window are relics of the rustic left at the back of: a big reproduction of King Tut’s sarcophagus, a bust of Nefertiti in her turquoise cap-crown, a hookah coiled in on itself (“ornament simplest,” Mr. Youssef mentioned). Above the tables stands a small determine of Christ wearing the move. On Sunday mornings, Mr. Youssef makes meals for his fellow parishioners at within sight St. Mary and St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church, cooking along his spouse, sister and brother to boost cash for other folks in want in…