We visited (and loved) Pierogi Bar; Tampa Bay’s first Ukrainian restaurant

We visited (and loved) Pierogi Bar; Tampa Bay’s first Ukrainian restaurant

Two plates or pierogi

Six months ago, we dropped the news that popular cottage kitchen operation, Pierogi Bar, would be opening an official brick-and-mortar storefront in St. Pete. A local favorite, the family-owned passion project had reached soaring success selling delicate, potato-filled purses straight from their home to ours. When it came to Eastern European food, the team produced some of the best.

Fast forward to today and the organization has jumped from its home kitchen into a (no longer) vacant one in West Central Shopping Center. This afternoon, after way too many months of frozen grocery store-bought pierogis, we finally had the chance to visit the team’s new location.

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It brings us much joy, therefore, to announce that Pierogi Bar—the flagship restaurant—is officially open for business. Expect just boiled and fried dumplings, however, and you’re in for a surprise.

Pierogi Bar, we learned today, is Tampa Bay’s first full-service Ukrainian restaurant. From Borscht to Shashlyk, the menu boasts at least 20 classic dishes from the team’s home country. What started as a small, in-house Pierogi company, therefore, has evolved.

In the words of the family behind the fare, the new Pierogi Bar is “not just about Pierogis.” From one plate to the next, it’s about “promoting Ukrainian culture, through rich Ukrainian cuisine.”

Promoting culture through cuisine

Since Pierogi Bar is the first full-service Ukrainian restaurant in the area (and maybe even Florida in general), we’d guess that most of you aren’t very familiar with the country’s cuisine. Prior to our visit, we weren’t either.

Luckily, as we prepared to order, a dedicated European manager sat down and colloquially explained each menu item to us. We feel confident, now, to do the same for you.

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So, if you’ve got a hunger for cultural exploration, a hunger for knowledge—or are just hungry—stay tuned. It’s time to check out Pierogi Bar’s best.

The menu

Pierogis

The famed Ukrainian dish behind the restaurant’s name, Pierogi Bar offers six varieties of handmade pierogis ranging from potato and cheese to mushroom. Served either pan-fried or boiled—and with the option to add toppings—each batch is highly customizable.

Our favorite order? The Potato and Cheddar, pan-fried with bacon and caramelized onions.

Borscht

Though Pierogis may be the item that started it all, the restaurant’s homemade Borscht has quickly become its best-selling dish. According to management, the team currently serves approximately 60 gallons of this slow-simmered beet soup a week.

If you’re looking for a true Ukrainian experience, we definitely recommend ordering a bowl as an appetizer.

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Kozak Platter

One of the most popular Eastern European foods is kielbasa sausage, which many of you know as a mixture of finely ground meats inside casing. Ukraine’s version of the dish, however, features chopped meat instead of ground. This variation, known as “kobasa,” tastes the same as traditional kielbasa, but has a more dynamic texture.

At Pierogi Bar, the best way to enjoy some kobasa is in the “Kozak Platter.” In addition to two thick links, the sampler also includes house-made potato pancakes and—of course—pierogis.

Shashlyk

Shashlyk is a classic Ukrainian dish that essentially resembles a shish kebab. Pierogi Bar’s rendition, though, tastes more like something you’d get in a steakhouse than a backyard barbecue or sidewalk food cart.

Featuring 48-hour marinated prime ribeye cuts, the restaurant’s flame-gilled skewers are notably high quality.

Galician Shnitsel

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The Ukrainian take on the familiar “schnitzel,” Galician Shnitsel consists of pounded, seasoned pork loin, egg washed and pan fried.

Served with mashed potatoes and a simple Ukrainian side salad, this crispy cutlet-centered dish is perfect for those seeking warm, familiar comfort fare.

Sour Cherry Pierogis

Two words: Dessert. Pierogis.

You’re welcome.

Food filled with heart and history

If you’re ready to cross “full-service Ukrainian restaurant” off your foodie bucket list, grab your culinary passport and head to 6661 Central Ave.

Pierogis—served with heart, history and bacon—await.

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Pierogi Bar is currently accepting dine-in reservations (and take-out orders) online. For more information on menu offerings and special events, foodies can follow the restaurant on Instagram or Facebook.

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