6905 Third Ave
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 748-0207
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
2nd Cuisine: Gourmet Shops
Area: Bay Ridge
The Family Store was born the same year I was - 1976 - which is no surprise to me, because every time I walk into this epicurean utopia, I feel reborn. Maybe it's because I am of Mediterranean descent, and it is in my genes to feel pacified by the sweet, spicy aromas of cardamom, saffron, garlic and lemon zest. Or maybe it's the way the owners, the Dabal family, greet me as though I am one of their own every single time I walk through the door.
I have been sampling the cuisine at The Family Store for about ten years, and every dish I have had is absolutely top-notch. I should be in a 12-step program for my addiction to their homemade yogurt, because I cannot get enough of it. While a little pricey ($6.00 for 16 ounces), it is of perfect creaminess with a just-right hint of sweetness, and in my opinion even better than Fage. I usually purchase the plain kind because I can either eat it straight out of the tub, or use it in place of milk or mayo in my own recipes. But they have vanilla, too - or you can buy it with a fresh topping (like sour cherries, blackberries, or honey) for $1 extra.
There's no paper menu at The Family Store, because their menu is constantly changing. Just ask Mr. Dabal or his son, Sam, for a rundown of the dishes du jour. Not only will they tell you what's delicious, they'll offer you samples of everything. On many occasions, I've gotten full just trying to decide what to have for dinner.
My favorites include the tabouleh salad, made with the perfect ratio of tomato to parsley and an expert splash of lemon, and the cracked wheat pilaf with chick peas and vermicelli noodles. Also, I've never been able to enter the store without walking out with a slice of their semolina cheesecake. How can I explain just how heavenly this dessert really is - except to say that I feel like Cleopatra on Ecstasy when I am eating it?
Here's a tidbit: Mr. Dabal told me that while they don't ship their food, people have come from all over the country to get it - including Paul Newman, who used to be a regular, and Robert De Niro, who recently stopped in for lunch while filming a movie on 3rd Avenue.
Review By: Janice Bevilacqua