646 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Our Rating: ★★★★
Cards: Cash only
Hours: 7 Days a Week, Noon – 9:00PM
Subway: G at Nassau Ave.; L at Bedford Ave.
NY Times says:
We ended up choosing Lomzynianka, for one reason above all others: among its positive reviews was one from my colleague Eric Asimov, who checked it out in 2002, when he was writing the $25 and Under column.
Here’s some of what Eric had to say back then: “It’s pronounced Lahm-zhin-YAHN-eh-ka . . . The small dining room has the look of authenticity that comes only from artificiality: brick wallpaper, plastic tablecloths, fake plants and a stag’s head with tinsel-draped antlers.”
He went on to offer tempered but genuine praise for the food, singling out the potato pancakes and the “light, white veal meatballs,” which he noted were just $4.
How much of this would still hold true, seven years later?
The décor is pretty much as Eric described it: a poignantly economical stab at fanciness that will be familiar to just about anyone with an immigrant grandmother from the Old World. To Eric’s description I’d add one note: each table has its own tiny shaded lamp on it. And that touch gives the small dining room an even more intimate feel.
The prices, obviously, have changed since Eric’s day. But they’re still low enough that you’re likely to do a double take when you see them. The veal meatballs, three of them in a white gravy stippled with dill, are $6.50, which includes a veritable mountain range of mashed potatoes to their side.
The potato pancakes, a half dozen of them, are $5. The Polish platter of three pierogis, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage and potatoes is $7.50.
We tried all of that. But first we were given the salads that apparently come with any entrée: a generous tangle of shredded, lightly pickled vegetables including sweet carrots, cabbage and beets. Served cold, it was a terrifically refreshing answer to a muggy summer day.
The veal meatballs were fluffier and lighter than anything with meat has any right to be. The stuffed cabbage had a similar lightness, a contradiction of all the stereotypes and all my worries about how heavy Eastern European food is. At this restaurant it has a surprising delicacy.
Except for the potato pancakes. I don’t know that delicacy and potato pancakes can ever nestle together honestly in the same sentence, and I don’t know that they should. These were faintly greasy, sufficiently crunchy, thicker than expected and completely addictive. We finished them all, figuring we’d just pedal with extra vigor to make up for it.
The pierogies and the mashed potatoes, which the restaurant uses with too much abandon in too many dishes, were bland, and as much as I love dill, I do think a kitchen can go overboard with it. Lomzynianka’s certainly did.
NY Mag says:
Pronounced “Lahm-zin-yah-nyeh-ka,” this tiny, nine-table restaurant offers authentic Slavic comfort food at unbeatable prices. The name, meaning “girl from Lomza,” refers to owner-chef Janina Grzelczak, whose savory homemade cooking has attracted a loyal following since 1995. Customers from all cultures come, BYO six-pack ready, often waiting a short while for a table to open up so they can dig into a hearty plate of potato pancakes with beef goulash. Though the dining room décor erroneously skews toward old-lady chic (plastic covers over lace tablecloths, silk flowers pinned to the walls), soft lights make the atmosphere cozy. The menu helpfully lists English translations alongside the Polish descriptions, and nothing is priced over $10, so you can mix and match favorites like borscht and Wiener Schnitzel. For variety, the oversize Polish platter comes with pierogi, stuffed cabbage, stew, and spicy kielbasa sausage. All entrées come with a starter plate of pickled vegetables and sauerkraut, but save room for dessert—an array of blintzes with fruit toppings.
Boscht +Vegetable, $2.75; Polish Platter (two pierogies, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, bigos, and mashed potatoes), $8; Hungarian Pie (potato pancakes with beef goulash), $8; Chef’s Blintz, $5.50