A breaded, fried, boneless chicken breast isn’t hard to find in New York City, but it doesn’t necessarily qualify as the delicacy known as schnitzel. That’s all changing, thanks largely to the food stand Schnitz, which recently opened its first brick-and-mortar location.
Schnitzel originated in Austria, and can technically refer to any boneless, thin cutlet of meat that has been breaded and deep fried. Wiener schnitzel is one of the most popular forms, which is made with veal. Ashkenazi Jews brought schnitzel to Israel, where it became a staple available on every corner, usually made with chicken.
The three young co-founders of Schnitz–Allon Yosha, and brother and sister Yoni and Donna Erlich–all have parents from Israel and still have lot of family there. But the three grew up in New Jersey; and when they decided to enter the restaurant business, they realized they could fill a need for authentic, crispy, oily schnitzel here in the states.
The restaurant biz newbies set to work gaining experience and building a business plan, gather a community through a blog and social media which documented their whole process. They were accepted to the Brooklyn food fair Smorgasburg in 2011, and quickly gained attention, including a big boost from chef Mario Batali on national television.
Recently, they added a permanent location on 1st Ave.
But despite the food’s traditional roots, Schnitz isn’t content to play it safe. Their menu boasts a wide range of flavors in toppings, like Schnitz greens, jicama and cilantro, daikon and ginger, and black kale (it is from Brooklyn, after all). There’s also some decidedly unkosher pork schnitzel.
Yoni Erlich commented on their diverse flavors and influences when Jspace caught up with him back in 2012.
“[Israeli influence] just creeps up into our identity because we are Jewish and we have Israeli roots and I have a lot of relatives in Israel,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot of influence in there. But we’re using Japanese, German, French, we’re using ingredients all over the place. We don’t discriminate.”