Food is a way of bringing us to places that we wish we could go to.
French restaurants, Italian cuisine, good old American burger and fries — all their tastes and smells can transport you to almost anywhere. And then there is the place that many of us wish we could travel to more often — Israel. The Jewish homeland.
There are many specific foods that remind us of Israel. Yuval Granevitz of Teaneck and Boaz Nuriel of Fort Lee want to bring the taste of Israel to your street. Literally. And they are doing that with the only kosher food truck in the area.
These two gentlemen are the proud proprietors of the Shakshooka food truck. You might have noticed it parked behind the Avenue Event space on Queen Anne Road in Teaneck. This is because for the past five years, Mr. Granevitz has owned this establishment. Now he and his business partner are adding Shakshooka.
Shakshooka is a mixture of eggs, tomato sauce, vegetables, and spices. Originally created in Libya, the dish has become a popular breakfast food — and now a food that can be eaten any time of the day. “We serve it with all different toppings and it is pareve and vegan,” Mr. Granevitz said. He and Mr. Nuriel also serve authentic Israeli falafel. “If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine that you are eating it in Israel,” he said.
Mr. Nuriel added that they decided to open this food truck because there was no shakshooka at all in the area. “As an Israeli, I needed to share that delicacy with others,” he said.
Mr. Granevitz, who was born in Petach Tikva, and Mr. Nuriel, who originally hails from Herzelia, both thought that a shakshooka truck would fill a real need. “We are not like a regular restaurant,” Mr. Granevitz said. “We open every Thursday at 11 a.m., and we stay open until all of the food is served. There are never any leftovers, because we want to keep everything fresh. Some customers have even requested to buy the sauce that we make especially for our shakshooka.”
The truck also has made its way to various high schools in the area, bringing delicious — and maybe as importantly, economical — lunch specials to students. The truck is in Teaneck every Thursday. During the rest of the week, it goes around New Jersey. (That’s one of the advantages to its being a truck!) The Shakshooka truck even was at Votee.
Mr. Granevitz sees to Shakshooka’s management. He is responsible for all of the many required permits and for its kashrut certification, which comes from Chabad of Monsey. Mr. Nuriel is the truck’s official driver and he also is the chef. “I have always loved cooking,” he said. “Now I can do it as a profession and to give others the taste of Israel that I love.” The duo pride themselves on using only natural ingredients and on serving the freshest food possible.
Any new business is risky, but Mr. Granevitz and Mr. Nuriel have decided to assume those risks. They knew that there had been a Shakshooka truck in New York City, but it closed soon after opening. Undeterred, they found a truck on an online truck site, and they bought it.
The truck’s inaugural event was this Purim, for Rabbi Ephraim Simon and the Chabad of Teaneck. From there, word of mouth helped get the truck business as it showed up all over the neighborhood.
“We have done birthday parties and anniversary parties,” Mr. Granevitz said. “We have also been at the JCC in Tenafly and at the Meadowlands County Fair.” The fair was particularly challenging because there had never been kosher food there before. “Everyone wanted to taste the food,” he added. “Even people who weren’t kosher.
“Initially, we had to explain to the people running the fair why we couldn’t be open on Friday night or Saturday. They couldn’t understand our limitations. But in the end it worked out, and it was a good experience for everyone.”
Mr. Granevitz and Mr. Nuriel hope to buy a second truck eventually. They also know that they want to stick to Middle Eastern cuisine. “Our goal is to make people feel like they just came from Israel,” they said. “We want to continue to produce a healthy product that people enjoy, and keep the price point at a place that will also make everyone happy.”
For more information about the Shakshooka truck, find it on Facebook or call (201) 676-0132.