Tonight is the last night of Passover, when traditionally, the Jewish faith celebrates freedom. Tomorrow, known as Isru Chag, is a day when it is forbidden to fast. Great timing to fill up on one of the most liberatingly delicious spins on a holiday classic: chef Dan Kluger’s kasha and bowtie pasta ($16 appetizer/$24 entrée). In a clever spin on the Ashkenazi kasha varnishkes, Kluger keeps to tradition by tossing the crunchy grain with noodles. Here’s the twist: soft, comforting veal meatballs add the richness usually brought in by brown gravy, and a touch of tomato and a dollop of creamy cheese contribute a familiar, saucy finish to a hearty bowl of noodles.
This ingenious blend of culture and creativity is certainly what put Kluger on the map when chef/owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten brought him on as executive chef upon opening in 2010. Since then, Kluger has been named a Food & Wine Best New Chef, and was essential in the Flatiron restaurant garnering a James Beard Foundation Award in 2011 for Best New Restaurant. This year, Kluger is nominated for Best Chef New York City. Whether or not he will take the prize will be revealed at the annual JBFA Chef and Restaurant Awards on May 5.