The Viral Burek Pastry That's Taken Over Staten Island

On Staten Island, Blend's Bakery and Grill is serving up a cheese pie that has set the TikTok foodie community on fire. The star pastry, an Albanian take on the Slavic classic burek, has everything a voyeuristic eater could want: a euphonious crackling crust, a glistening exterior that catches the light, and a gooey interior hinting at a molten cheese heart. In the signature video, all of these elements converge as a giant mezzaluna divides up the burek into four perfect wedges. And while it may not have a divine cheese pull like an epic pizza, this pastry is still a tantalizing promise of dairy decadence. 

It's understandable that this tasty treat has only recently captured the attention of the TikTok community at large, as Blend's Bakery and Grill has only been in business for a year, according to Grub Street. Though it was a long-time dream of owner Sami Rafuna to bring an Albanian comfort food restaurant to Staten Island, he was waiting on some familial talent to make the journey to the States. This includes Rafuna's brother-in-law, who's made burek for over 40 years in Kosovo. Blend's, on the whole, is a family affair, with husband-and-wife team Sami and Hisame running the bakery; their nephew, Fatlum Martinaj, manning the brick oven; and their son (and restaurant namesake), Blend, working the tables with charm and courtesy. Even Rafuna's daughter, Bliona, is in the game, as she was the first to launch the now-viral burek-cutting TikTok.   

A tasty TikTok sensation

So what exactly is a burek, and what's the secret to Blend's viral take on it? Burek is a Balkan specialty, a phyllo-encrusted pie that can contain meat, cheese, spinach, or a combo of all three. Depending on what country you're in, the burek can come in a variety of shapes, like tightly coiled spirals or rectangular slabs. At Blend's, the burek is a plain round, with sheets of papery dough meticulously layered over the chosen filling by hand. This multi-tiered pastry is then baked in a piping hot brick oven, a remnant from the days when the space was a Goodfella's pizza parlor.  


So satsifying 😍 #nyc #newyork #statenisland #hylanblvd #blendbakeryandgrill #bakery #grill #albania #kosovo #kosov #albanian #albanianfood #balkan #food #foodie #crunchy #crispy #satisfying #asmr #burek #borek #byrek #homemade #yogurt #kos #fyp #fypシ #viral

♬ original sound – Blend's Bakery and Grill

While the cheese burek is the one that became internet-famous, the restaurant offers two variations of it, meat and spinach, as well as plenty of other Slavic favorites, like pitalk, an epically thick flatbread, and fli, a savory crepe dish that you have to order at least a day in advance. But if you want to get a taste of what first put Blend's on the internet map, stick with the decadent goodness that is the cheese burek.