My wife and I had to take a short trip to Syracuse (a one hour drive from Rochester) last Wednesday, so I took the opportunity to arrange for us to have dinner at that city’s only Polish restaurant, Eva’s European Sweets (photo above).
Eva’s European Sweets Polish Restaurant
1305 Milton Avenue
Syracuse, New York
Polish immigrant, Eva (spelled Ewa in Polish) Zaczynski, nee Marcinkowska, opened her desserts bakery in 1997 and gradually transformed it into a full-scale restaurant serving a wide variety of Polish and Eastern European ethnic foods. I had visited Eva’s many years previously as a side-trip on one of my solo visits to the Syracuse Polish Festival, but this time I brought along my piękna żona.
My non-Polish bride is not as familiar with Polish cuisine as myself, so as she scanned Eva’s extensive menu she asked for my help. I knew she would enjoy the breaded pork cutlets, popularly known in Germany and even in America as Schnitzel and as Kotlet Schabowy in Polish. It was served with red cabbage, pan-fried potatoes, and cucumber and tomato salad. My piękna żona enjoyed her dinner very much.
I ordered the Polish Platter, which included a gołąbek (a single gołąbki is properly called a gołąbek, cabbage stuffed with a rice and ground beef mixture), a serving of bigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew), which is a melange of sauerkraut, cabbage, kielbasa, beef, ham, bacon and mushrooms, two pierogies (Polish dumplings) stuffed with potato and sauerkraut, and a kiełbasa (Polish sausage) link.
My dinner was good, but I had a few quibbles. The gołąbek (pronounced gaw-WOAM-bek) filling was plentiful, but a bit bland and there was no tomato sauce topping. The bigos was very good, although not quite as good as my homemade recipe. The pierogies were tasty and the dough edges were chewy, just the way I like them, but they were quite small. The undersized, cut-in-half link of smoked kiełbasa was waaaaay over-fried. The above criticisms are minor, except for the kiełbasa. A meaty and properly-cooked kiełbasa portion would have erased all of the other minor objections. I do realize this was a sampler platter and that portions would be limited. However, I have nothing but sympathy for the poor patron who makes a full dinner of this cringeworthy over-fried kiełbasa (note: a “kiełbasa dinner” is on the menu).
Eva’s has a pleasant interior with many Polish-themed decorations. Outside dining is offered during the warm months, which I was looking forward to, but it was raining when we visited. The service was very prompt and friendly.
Overall, the experience at Eva’s was an enjoyable B to B+. I look forward to going back to Ewa’s in the future and trying the Placki (potato pancakes) and one of their authentic Polish desserts.
Polish restaurants are scarce here in Western and Central New York, so I appreciate that Eva’s has been able to survive and thrive for 25 years.
Postcript: The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” with chef, Guy Fieri, visited Eva’s European Sweets in 2013. Eva prepared Placki Hungarian Style in that episode.