You won’t find anything kosher on the menu – bacon donuts, baby back ribs, fois gras with egg and bacon, scallops – and that’s the point. In Yiddish, the name refers to foods that are forbidden by Jewish dietary laws, so it’s not too popular with the local Hasidim. Menu dishes have included delicious oddities including Cornmeal-Crusted Soft-Shell Crabs, Strawberry-Cinnamon Glazed Berkshire Baby Back Ribs, and Risotto Of Maine Lobster with Spicy Sausage. A very non-Kosher experience for experimental eaters who love their pork and shellfish.
Chef Jason Marcus’s flaunting of all things unkosher could have been seen as a slap in the face to the nearby community of Hasidic Jews, but his orthodox neighbors are unfazed by the concept. Off of a hyper-seasonal menu and out of the diminutive open kitchen come neat small dishes for sharing.
There are three rules when it comes to eating at Williamsburg restaurant Traif: 1) Don’t be hungry, 2) don’t be on a diet and 3) don’t be a vegetarian. As to the first, all the food is served small-plate style, and while the dishes are delicious, they’re way better for sampling than stuffing yourself, and you’ll be furious if you gulp down a serving before you really get to taste it. To the second, the food is oft-slathered in barbecue sauce, fried or sprinkled with bacon, and it will kill your Weight Watchers points. And to the third, the restaurant’s name is a cheeky reference both to the decidedly unkosher shellfish and pork food it serves, and there are very few (if any) veggie options, so take a carnivore.
Given its name (which roughly translates as ‘non-kosher’), look for “lots of pork and shellfish” on the “innovative” Eclectic menu of this “intimate” Williamsburg “winner”, featuring a small plates–centric format geared toward “sharing”; regulars say “splurging on the tasting menu” is the way to go.