GOVERNORS ISLAND — Visitors to Governors Island can snack on everything from Mexican barbecue to Thai fusion dishes — but until recently, those who kept kosher were out of luck.
That changed when kosher food truck Schnitzi, which specializes in a variety of schnitzel and follows Jewish dietary restrictions, won the chance to serve its crunchy cutlets and specialty sauces on the island every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We’ve had customers that have bought our food [in Manhattan], then went to Governors Island,” said Nir Messer, 36, the co-owner of the truck. “So spending Sundays there really seemed like the way to go for us.”
The schnitzel haven had built up a following at its two brick-and-mortar restaurants, in Borough Park and Midwood, for several years, and then started a mobile truck in Manhattan about five months ago, Messer said.
Both the truck and the restaurant use a variety of seasonings to create different crusts for the thinly pounded, fried chicken and turkey cutlets. The bread crumb batters include garlicky Greek, sesame-laden Chinese and mustard-heavy French options.
Once it's fried, the schnitzel is drizzled with special sauces and then served on a baguette or a wrap. The hefty, footlong sandwiches cost about $11.50 apiece.
For those avoiding fried foods, Schnitzi also offers grilled chicken and steak options, as well as salads.
Messer, an Israel native who opened the first Borough Park location in 2007, followed by the Midwood spot in 2010, said more and more of his customers are heading to Governors Island on Sundays for birthday parties and large family gatherings.
"It’s a nice place to go with the kids, and it’s a hassle to bring all your own food,” said Messer. “We’re happy we can serve people fresh food and help them enjoy the day.”
Leslie Koch, president of the Trust For Governors Island, said she had long been looking for a kosher food option to serve the growing number of Orthodox Jewish New Yorkers who are spending their leisure time on the island.
This year, with a host of new food trucks parked on the island, Koch enlisted the help of Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield, who represents Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Midwood, to spread the word that the island was looking for a kosher food truck — and Schnitizi quickly became the front-runner.
“I’ve had many constituents over the years say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have kosher food on Governors Island,’” said Greenfield. “And Schnitzi’s seemed like the perfect fit.”
Koch said she was glad to welcome Schnitizi to the island.
“We take very seriously the idea that Governors Island should be welcoming to all New Yorkers,” Koch said. “Having delicious, affordable kosher food was a missing piece here and we’re happy to have filled that spot with such a great option.”