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One of the best pizzas in the city doesn’t come via Italy (or Detroit, or St. Louis) but from Lebanon. On the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal, just feet away from the rowdy bars packed with hordes of NYU students, is Manousheh, one of the few places in NYC churning out its namesake flatbread.
Manousheh is technically a breakfast dish in Lebanon, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be consumed at other times of the day. Each one of these circular flatbreads is baked to order in the cozy store’s brick oven until it’s puffy and slightly chewy. There are six different topping options available, but none involve your standard tomato sauce and globs of mozzarella.
Instead, the manousheh get topped with everything from thick and creamy labneh (strained yogurt) to a mixture of spiced ground beef, onions, and tomatoes. But the absolute standout is the Cocktail manousheh, which is slicked with a potent mix of olive oil, za’atar (the ubiquitous Middle Eastern spice mix of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds), and jibneh, a soft and salty cheese -- all for just $6.
The large and filling flatbread arrives folded in half (like any good New York slice), fresh from the oven, in a sleeve of parchment paper. The za’taar is toasty and herbaceous but also has a punchy lemony flavor that balances it out. Combined with the melty (but not overly stringy) cheese, the dish is salty and warm in the most comforting of ways. The best part? The shop is open until 11pm most nights, so you can skip battling that line of overserved college students for your regular late-night slice.
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What's a Lebanese man to do when he comes to New York City but doesn't find his favorite Beirut street food done justice? Open a restaurant devoted to it. Manousheh gets its name from -- and specializes in -- flatbread-style pizza whose savory and sweet toppings run the gamut from labneh to nutella. The standout version is the Cocktail manousheh made with olive oil, za'atar spice, and jibneh (a soft, salty cheese), but the Lahem Bi Ajine (a mixture of spiced ground beef, tomato, and onion) and Halaweh (a sesame-based dessert version) also hit the spot. Move over pizza, there's a new handheld eat in town.