It's one of the toughest tricks to pull off in New York City, replacing a beloved neighborhood mainstay with something that's similar, but also wholly fresh and new. Throw a global pandemic and general air of uncertainty into the mix and, well... let's just say that conditions less than ideal for Eduoard Massih's just-opened Edy's Grocer, a "mini Sahadi's" (though unrelated to the real Sahadi's) that took over the corner of longtime Polish market Maria's Deli in Greenpoint.
Massih, a caterer and private chef who grew up in Lebanon before moving to America with his family in 2004, landed in Greenpoint six years ago and became fast friends with Maria Puk, the owner and operator of her namesake deli. Even after more than four decades in the business, Puk still spent her days "stirring, slicing, flipping, and frying" said Massih, and the two of them would often joke about how he was going to take over the shop when she retired.
Then COVID hit, and the joking suddenly became serious. And so, with Puk's blessings and support as his landlord, and a whirlwind six weeks during which Massih basically built a business from scratch, Edy's was born. So far the community has embraced the change, with lines around the block on opening day and, when I visited on Monday evening, a steady stream of customers eager to try Massih's prepared foods, and/or stock up his terrific selection (via Sahadi's wholesale) of Middle Eastern groceries.
Edy's Grocer (it's pronounced like "Eddie's"), offers a reliable showcase for Massih's cooking, a necessary outlet for his obvious talents now that the catering industry has completely cratered. I ordered, and promptly devoured, two of his Lebanese dishes from the opening menu, the Riz a Jej, which involves some beautifully cooked chicken piled atop a mound of well-seasoned "dirty rice," and the Eggplant and Chickpea Fatteh, served smothered in an excellent tahini. They're packaged to bring home, but your friendly counter person will microwave it for you if you want to sit on the patio area out front and eat it all right away.
Massih also makes an assortment of fresh mezze every day, including Odo's Garlicky Labneh, the red pepper dip Muhammara, Marinated Feta, and Hummus with Dukkah. And he pays tribute to Puk and the Greenpoint's Polish community with Potato Pancakes and two kinds of Stuffed Cabbage, vegetarian and meat, the latter of which, housing deep, intense flavors, was one of the best I've ever had. The famous Maria's Deli Chicken Cutlet Sandwich is coming soon as well.
Edy's opens early for breakfast, with pastries from nearby Syrena Bakery, and treats like a Za'atar Breakfast Empanada and the flatbread Man'oushe. Or you can just grab a coffee from the window that opens up onto Eckford Street. Among the many anytime delights awaiting you among the groceries are a couple of flavors of Seed and Mill's superb halvah, sliced from massive cakes of the stuff on the counter.
Only three customers are allowed inside Edy's at any one time, masks are required of course, though Massih and his staff seem to prefer the face shield method of pandemic protection.
Edy's Grocer is located at 136 Meserole Avenue, at the corner of Eckford Street, and is currently open on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (718-383-9063; edouardmassih.com)