Walk through the doors of Izzy’s Smokehouse, and it is almost as if you have stepped through a magical portal, transporting you to a different time and place. While just seconds ago you may have been standing on Troy Avenue, in the heart of Crown Heights, once you step into Izzy’s you are suddenly in a place that feels like it should be inhabited by broad shouldered men with weathered faces clad in cowboy hats, and as you look around, you can’t help but wonder if there is a jukebox nearby about to start playing country western music. And just in case you were wondering, yes, that is a cow’s skull mounted up on the wall next to the blackboard featuring the daily specials.
It’s all about the cow at Izzy’s, although to be fair, there is an adequate amount of poultry and other carnivorous delights being lovingly smoked by Izzy’s namesake, Sruly Eidelman, a 28-year-old resident of Crown Heights.
The idea for Izzy’s was born when Eidelman got a taste of authentic smokehouse barbeque. He was attending an event held by The Wandering Que, which has been delighting kosher foodies with authentic Texas roadside barbeque at pop ups promoted on social media.
“I really enjoyed it,” Eidelman told The Jewish Press. “We didn’t have anything like this in the kosher market at all. I bought a smoker and this became a hobby of mine.”
Eidelman, who had been working at the time for a building supply company, created a Facebook page of his own, titled Izzy’s Barbeque Addiction, and the response from the public was so overwhelming that he decided to take his passion to the next level, opening up Izzy’s Smokehouse one year later.
Izzy’s is a wonderful blend of noise and energy, where baskets of plastic silverware adorn the walls, and you find yourself borrowing napkins and barbeque sauce from your very close neighbors seated at the next table, who are complete and total strangers, but nobody cares because you are all there to enjoy seriously good barbeque.
Forget the niceties, this is a place where the barbeque sauce runs down your arms while you nibble on chicken wings, and you end up with spices on your face because you can’t help but gnaw on the bones of Izzy’s legendary dinosaur ribs, which are everything you have ever wanted in a rib and more. To complete the experience, you get to watch Izzy himself, up front, pulling slabs of meat out of the smoker, slicing them expertly, before scooping them up with his gloved hands and depositing them on paper lined metal trays to be served to diners, who are practically salivating as they discreetly try to check out their neighbor’s food without being too obvious.
There is food on the menu other than meat and poultry. Izzy’s serves up slaw, fries, and pit-smoked brisket and beans, which is kind of like John Wayne meets cholent in the best possible way. But the stars of the show are the smoked meats, and there is no doubt that Izzy’s is all about the beef, where the smoked brisket is so soft that it surrenders easily to a flimsy plastic knife, the smoked hot wings are the epitome of sticky fingered goodness, and the aforementioned dinosaur ribs are a taste of heaven.
Izzy’s opened in July and is starting slowly in order to maintain a high level of quality. The restaurant is always crowded, and Eidelman admits that he never expected the business to take off as quickly as it did. Will there be an expansion in the future? Quite possibly.
Izzy’s does a brisk takeout and catering business and is open Monday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. until 10:15 p.m. and on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Be prepared to wait when you get there because with food this good, Izzy’s is hotter than hot, it’s one of the most popular kosher eateries in town.
Like the cow’s head that adorns the wall, purchased by Eidelman on eBay, Izzy’s is the real deal, giving kosher diners a long awaited chance to enjoy the smoky goodness of real barbeque.
Grab a few extra napkins. You are going to need them.
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Izzy’s Brooklyn Smokehouse
397 Troy Ave., Brooklyn, NY