Another day, another NYC/Brooklyn food trend. Some are not so kid-friendly. (Artisanal mayonaise, gin, relish?: Eh.) However, a recent addition to the burgeoning Gowanus, Brooklyn restaurant row of Third Avenue is serving up novelty nosh tiny diners can probably get behind: pierogies. With a real grandma providing the shop’s namesake and culinary inspiration, Baba’s Pierogies recently opened its doors, and we stopped by to sample the goods.
photo: Baba’s Pierogies
A few years ago, Helena Fabiankovic started a side business catering pierogies on a lark. The venture was inspired by her childhood memory of the savory dumplings her grandmother (AKA “Baba”), an immigrant from Slovakia, would whip up every Friday. Needless to say, the concept snowballed, and this April, Fabiankovic and partner Robert Gardiner opened Baba’s Pierogies to much buzz and long lines. (An hour wait on opening weekend!) Now Fabiankovic, family, and friends are working overtime to meet what is apparently, a pent-up demand for a nouveau Brooklyn version of the comfort food.
While Brooklyn’s Third Avenue is hardly bustling like the nearby commercial arteries of Fifth Avenue or Smith Street, funky retail spots and restaurants are increasingly cropping up here. (Twig Terrariums, The Robot Foundry, Runner & Stone, and The Pines are all a stone’s throw from Baba’s. Whole Foods Brooklyn is around the corner and of course, Barclays Center isn’t too far away as well.)
The restaurant itself is cozy, with a few more than a dozen seats. (Not a problem when we stopped by on a weekday for lunch, but you may wait on the weekends.) It’s a bright space with lots of raw wood touches: the walls are lined with weathered wood from pallets, the tables, engraved with the restaurant’s logo, are made from salvaged bowling alley lanes. The decor pays homage to Baba and her home country, with family photos hung against a backdrop of a map (you get to see grandma cooking over the years).
Added bonus: the restaurant is specifically designed so you can see your pierogies being fashioned back in the kitchen.
As the name promises: pierogies. Lots and lots of pierogies both boiled or fried (you get to pick your preparation). Varieties range from classic potato and sauerkraut, to mac and cheese, bacon cheddar, and more — and for dessert: crunchy hazelnut chocolate or blueberry. Toppings include sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, and you’ll find an assortment of dips such as horseradish and blue cheese.
Baba’s also offers sandwiches such as the Hamwich or the Sloppy Kielbasy (sort of a sloppy joe with sausage) as well as colorful palate-cleansing slaw salads made from carrots, cucumbers and beets. Additional menu items include grilled kilebasy, schnitzel bites, and kielbasy sliders.
Fabiankovic says that in time, more exotic fillings, as well as dishes such as soups and goulashes will be offered at Baba’s. Right now, the restaurant is cash only and doesn’t deliver, but that will change in the coming weeks, and beer and wine will be added to the drinks selection of sodas and iced teas.
295 Third Ave.
Have you been to Baba’s Pierogies? What kind did you try? Tell us in the comments below!
— Mimi O’Connor