Don’t be fooled by the tired lasso of rope lights in the window; the standard issue take-out cups with frilly script “Cappuccino” on the sides. Don't be waylaid by the miniature vortex of sales circulars attacking your ankles as you approach 1985 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn: The winner for the hardest working phyllo in the five boroughs is steps away, inside Güllüoglu.
With a few hardwood tables and some scattered recliners, Güllüoglu (julie-oo-oh-la ) is a chain restaurant, but a chain restaurant with roots dating back to a single 1871 bakery in Turkey (Take that, Ray Kroc). Ahmet Durantas established Güllüoglu’s first U.S. outpost in 2005, on Coney Island Avenue (near Avenue P next to Moshi Moshi, a Kosher-Japanese place). It is well worth a visit, especially if you’re making a daytrip to Di Fara Pizza. Phyllo dough is the basis for many of Güllüoglu’s offerings, including savory su boregis, the Turkish progenitor of the burek, available in cheese and spinach versions. Güllüoglu offers a morning menu featuring the “Turkish Breakfast”- ($3.95- feta, olives, tomato, pita, cucumber, and green pepper)- and omelettes with fillings like potato and Soujouk, a Turkish breakfast sausage. Display cases are topped with Turkish Delight and small confections packaged to look like toy dolls. There's also Turkish Coffee. The main draw at Güllüoglu, however, is the baklava.
The all too common fate of many a New York baklava is a full-time tray bath in sticky, simple syrup. It seems as though in some dark food history moment, a literal-minded baker took Joe Elliott’s cryptic imperative to heart. Durum wheat and nuts haven't been the same since then. Güllüoglu bakes differently: its baklava with pistachio contains simple syrup, but isn't steeped in it. Some products served at Güllüoglu are shipped directly from Istanbul in components and then baked on premise. This is not simply a matter of quality control, a remote operating unit of a huge chain getting shipments from a central processing plant, like the alleged bread baked at Subway- the bright green flecks of crushed Barak Boz pistachios coating the outside of some baklava (cream, walnut and hazelnut varieties are also available) are to conventional pistachios what marcona almonds are to other almonds- something completely different- the Turkish pistachios used at Güllüoglu are softer when roasted, and have an almost creamy taste. Another difference is that Güllüoglu's phyllo dough is made with sheep and goat’s milk butter.
On our last visit, Gothamist paid $8 for three pieces of Baklava with pistachio, a huge piece of su boregi with cheese, and a coffee. The phyllo was flaky and crisp on the outside, dense and perfumey within. We paid with a ten, and got a two-dollar bill as change. Legal tender and all that not withstanding, a two-dollar bill is hard to come by these days in New York. Harder still is good baklava. At least until now.
1985 Coney Island Avenue