The girl from Łomża

Saturday, April 12th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

After months — maybe years? — of half-hearted planning, we finally set out in earnest to explore the Polish eats in Greenpoint, before the forces of gentrification (and the models) push the long-time denizens east to Ridgewood. For now, along Manhattan Avenue, there is no shortage of options nestled among the bakeries selling babka, the vodka-stocked liquor stores and shop windows announcing ”Polska Mowa.”

Lomzynianka (lahm-zhin-YAHN-eh-ka) on Manhattan Avenue is considered one of the better options for tasty and authentic Polish food at wallet-friendly prices, in an area where bargains can still be found. The restaurant’s name translates to “Girl from Łomża,” which refers to the restaurant’s chef-owner Janina Grzelczak who hails from that town in Poland, 80 miles northeast of Warsaw. This small, unassuming neighborhood joint is widely-praised for its hefty portions of meat and potatoes — a favorite with locals and food critics alike. Eric Asimov gave Lomzynianka the “$25 and Under” treatment in 2002. With a little planning, that princely sum probably could have fed four. With leftovers. Food blogger NYCnosh managed to satisfy three here with a budget of $20, including wine, tax and tip.

Entering the dimly lit dining room felt like stepping into the home of someone’s Polish grandmother: small lamps on plastic lace “embroidered” tablecloths, chipped and mismatched plates, fake flowers and… um, is that a deer head mounted on the faux brick wall? (Why yes, it is.) The half-Polish/half-English menu lists entrées starting at an astounding $4.25 for roast chicken with sides. The prices are almost impossibly low; there isn’t even alcohol served to help boost the profit margins. (Lomzynianka is BYOB — no corkage fee — and Dunne’s Polemost Liquors is conveniently located just up the block.)

Borscht is one of the specialties here, so I ordered a bowl of white zurek. Unlike in Ukranian-style borscht, beets are not standard; the white borscht is made from a base of fermented rye flour, usually added to a broth of boiled kielbasa. Lomzynianka’s piping hot version was creamy and rich, and buttery and slightly sour all at once, stirred in with a hardboiled egg and generous chunks of smoky sausage. And a bargain for $2.50.

Platter of steamed potato and cheese pierogis with a side dollop of sour cream — so filling, I could only eat a few:

The $4.50 polish kielbasa platter, which included vegetable (stewed cabbage) and mashed potatoes, topped with chopped dill:

This is warming and hearty comfort food but for me, too heavy for every day. Lomzynianka is a neighborhood treasure, though, and for those who crave simple and authentic Polish food — tonight we saw a colorful cross-section of neighborhood families, elderly couples, hipsters, students and young couples on dates — you’d be hard-pressed to find better for less money.

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There are 5 Comments ... The girl from Łomża

May 8, 2008

This is so compelling an entry that we are trying to go tonight! It’s open till 9pm so we just may make it, will drag my brother and his gator. Yum

May 8, 2008

I <3 kielbasa

May 8, 2008

Yes, good people love polish sausage, unlike like those b*tches on Top Chef.

May 8, 2008

Bon appétit, H20Buffalo! Or rather: Smacznego! Let us know what you think!

Agree with NYC’s sexiest chef Johnny Iuzzini: the decision to forego Polish sausage was lame and disappointing.

Chefs are the new rock stars.

May 9, 2008

We went last night! Really good. Great value and the white borsht was excellent. I don’t have the ability to articulate on food as VIP does so yummy, good and delicious is all I have in my vernacular.

Go for it ...