Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh

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buffetbuster
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2008/11/12 14:08:46 (permalink)

Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh

Even though Jozsa Corner has been around since 1988, I had never heard of it until the local newspaper recently reviewed it.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08157/887458-242.stm

As far as I know, it is the only Hungarian restaurant in Pittsburgh. In case you don't want to read the entire review, it is apparently located in a house and is a one man operation. There is no menu and you are served whatever the owner feels like making. And you make an appointment, not a reservation. The place sounds interesting, to say the least.

Since I read the review, I have been aching to try the place. I will get my opportunity next Tuesday the 18th when I will be there with other family members for my mother's birthday. Needless to say, a full report along with photos will follow.

Has anyone been here before? I have heard there are similar one man restaurants around, but I have never been to one. Anyone have experiences with other one man restaurants?
#1

38 Replies Related Threads

    Baah Ben
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/12 14:16:07 (permalink)
    Never heard of it..I lived there from 1988 to 1991..I do know one restaurant that was in a house in Shadyside..Sam's.
    #2
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/12 14:21:50 (permalink)
    Baah Ben-
    You must be thinking about Cafe Sam on Baum Blvd. I understand it is a real favorite of Mario Lemieux. My favorite thing about that place is they always have good, unusual soups.
    #3
    GeoNit
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/12 18:03:19 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster, here's a background article on Jozsa Corner and its owner:

    http://www.thetartan.org/2008/3/31/pillbox/food

    I stopped there a couple of times a few years ago in the afternoon w/o a reservation.

    It's regretable that so many eastern European restaurants in North American cities have closed in recent years, even in cities like Toronto.
    #4
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/12 18:44:43 (permalink)
    Dearfolk,
    This is simply beyond the beyonds... I could never have thunk it up, it's THAT great.
    Somebody eat there for me and report back here. Don't ask for a Pittsburger. And don't accompany such fare as this with a six of Iron City... Straub's instead!
    Magyar Reservations Soon, Ort. Carlton in Um, Not Ethnic Athens, Georgia.
    #5
    MetroplexJim
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/12 18:57:14 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Ort. Carlton.

    Dearfolk,
    This is simply beyond the beyonds... I could never have thunk it up, it's THAT great.
    Somebody eat there for me and report back here. Don't ask for a Pittsburger. And don't accompany such fare as this with a six of Iron City... Straub's instead!
    Magyar Reservations Soon, Ort. Carlton in Um, Not Ethnic Athens, Georgia.


    I sincerely regret that my Scot/Presbyterian family "stuck to its own" during my Pittsburgh youth. Oh, the food (and the women) I missed! I'll make up for the food one of these days.
    #6
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/13 08:18:54 (permalink)
    GeoNit-
    I should have known that if anyone had been there before, it would be you. Thanks for the link to the interesting story. What did you think of the place and the food?
    #7
    joerogo
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/13 09:24:27 (permalink)
    buffetbuster, Sounds like a classic. Can't wait for the report.

    Was it difficult to get an appointment?
    #8
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/13 09:38:38 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Ort. Carlton.

    Magyar Reservations Soon
    I can't believe I missed this the first time around. Ort, I don't know how you come up with some of this stuff!!!

    joerogo-
    Doesn't it sound like a great place? My only concern is that my expectations may be too high.

    Since my mother's birthday was November 1, I tried to make the appointment for the 5th. He thought long and hard, but didn't think he could do it that day. That is when we settled on the 17th. I have no idea if this is typical or not.

    #9
    GeoNit
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/13 10:16:20 (permalink)
    Here's an earlier P-G review:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/20010330munch6.asp

    also ...

    http://www.davidrosengarten.com/content.asp?type=ezine&id=152
    #10
    Greymo
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/13 10:36:05 (permalink)
    I cannot wait to see your report on this place. It sounds like it is going to be a great adventure for you and the family. We had a great place in Baltimore with a quirky owner who served French food........he kept his door locked and you had to knock on the door to gain entrance. He would look though a small peek hole in the door to make sure that you were who he was expecting, and then would open the door for youl

    We loved the food and we really enjoyed the owner. He closed his buisness just a few months ago. The city was making too many demands on him to do something to the outside of his building and he said that he could not afford it and was too old and tired to think about it........too bad. A "one of a kind" restaurant is now closed.
    #11
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/18 17:22:43 (permalink)
    I just returned from my late lunch with my family at Jozsa Corner and it was one of the most memorable meals of my life. Everyone in my family loved it! I took over 100 photos, so I will get a report written soon. But right now, I need to go take a nap! I ate way too much!

    #12
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 08:09:03 (permalink)
    This past Tuesday, six members of my family and I had a late lunch at Jozsa Corner. Our appointment was for 2:00PM, but since it was snowing that day and we were unfamiliar with the neighborhood, we left early and arrived at 1:30PM.

    Here is the outside of Jozsa Corner.

    Not much to look at, but it sure looks like Roadfood!

    The fact that the sign outside says Traditional and Improvisational Creative cooking clues you in that this isn't your typical place.

    Since we were so early, the owner/host/chef Alex Bodnar was not quite ready for us. He led us back to the small dining room, where we would be sitting. He turned on the heat and for the first few minutes, people had to keep their coats on until the place warmed up.

    The dining room has two long tables and is set up for family dining. There are a few paintings that Alex did himself, which impressed my artistic mother.

    All kinds of Hungarian bric-a-brac can be found laying about and on the shelves.

    To kill time waiting for the food, my nephew Andrew played the piano, while his twin looked on.

    I knew I would like this place when I could hear our host Alex singing in the kitchen to the songs my nephew was playing.

    Just in case you haven't read the newspaper review, this is not a typical sit down restaurant. There is no menu. Our chef Alex never informed us what was coming and just kept bringing food out. Everything is served family style, which was fine, since I was there with my family! And since he doesn't have a dishwasher, you will be using paper plates and spoons.

    There was red cabbage on the table waiting for us when we got there, so we went ahead and dug in.

    My brother, who is a terrific cook, said it reminded him more of a vinegary cole slaw than the usual red cabbage you see in restaurants. It also had onion and a strong flavor of horseradish. Great start to the meal!

    An appetizer plate was next.

    As you can see, there is cheeses, carrots and celery. The interesting items were the cracklins and the stuffed grape leaves. The latter item

    was stuffed with a meat mixture. My brother and I both said that this was our least favorite food we tasted, but my sister absolutely loved them. The highly seasoned cracklins were positively addictive.


    Accompanying the appetizers was the langos or Hungarian fire bread.

    I thought this would mean that the bread would be spicy hot, but that was not the case. The bread tasted like it just came out of the oven and was topped by garlic salt and what we think was parmesan cheese. For those of you familiar with New Mexico food, it sure reminded me of sopaipillas. I was wishing I had some honey to go with it.

    Next out was the beef guylas or goulash.

    This strong flavored, hearty dish with incredibly tender meat, had just about everyone swooning. It was at this point that we knew we were in for something special. Both my mother and sister said this was their favorite dish. Here is my sister Vicki doing the ladling.


    Next came the lecso rice.

    A meatless dish, there were some tomatoes and I believe some peppers also. This was another dish we all approved of.

    I had been hoping for haluska and my wish was granted, because that was next.

    A simple dish made with just cabbage, noodles and onions, this version was especially buttery. Despite not knowing how much more food was coming and knowing I needed to pace myself, I couldn't help but have two big bowls of this wonderful item. Quite simply the best halushka I have ever had.


    Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Alex brought a wooden board containing some fine looking bread and another dish.

    The bread was a braided bread, covered with poppyseeds and it was piping hot. The dish contained the Transylvanian gulyas. You know you are having a great day when you get served two different types of goulash! Because this dish was loaded with wonderful pork and sauerkraut,

    I enjoyed this dish even more than the previous beef goulash.

    By this point, we were all getting very full. The twins, who were feeling under the weather anyway, had laid down on the couch to nap.


    The next two items came out at the same time. There was the chicken paprikas

    and the cucumber salad.

    I assume that meant they are supposed to be eaten together. Both of these were fine dishes and I really liked the tender chicken in the paprikas, but we were all full at this point.

    Since the occasion was for my mother's birthday, Alex was singing happy birthday when he brought out the dessert.

    Here he is setting the plate and a candle in front of my mother.

    The dessert itself was more of the langos, covered with powdered sugar, prunes, craisins and chocolate chips.


    Now that the cooking and eating was done, we had time to pose for some photos.

    From left to right: me, my 91 year old grandmother Marybelle, Alex, my brother Frank and my nephew Alex.

    Before we left, my mother bought a big pan of frozen stuffed cabbage to take home. The meals were $15.00 per person, which is a tremendous bargain considering the quality and quantity.

    I can't begin to tell you what a wonderful experience this was for us. Alex Bodnar did a fantastic job of entertaining us with stories, discussing recipes and restaurants and still kept the great food coming. Most importantly, my mother had one of her most memorable birthdays ever.

    As soon as they got in the car, the twins passed out!
    #13
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 08:50:49 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Greymo

    I cannot wait to see your report on this place. It sounds like it is going to be a great adventure for you and the family. We had a great place in Baltimore with a quirky owner who served French food........he kept his door locked and you had to knock on the door to gain entrance. He would look though a small peek hole in the door to make sure that you were who he was expecting, and then would open the door for youl

    We loved the food and we really enjoyed the owner. He closed his buisness just a few months ago. The city was making too many demands on him to do something to the outside of his building and he said that he could not afford it and was too old and tired to think about it........too bad. A "one of a kind" restaurant is now closed.
    Sorry to hear that such an interesting place closed. I love that he would look out through his peephole at you before letting you in!

    When I mentioned this place to my uncle, he told me of three other one man operations he has been to over the years, but they had all closed. What a shame! Hopefully, Jozsa Corner can keep going for many years!
    #14
    ScreenBear
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 08:57:23 (permalink)
    Good report, Buffet. None of the newspaper/and or magazine reviews did as good a job in capturing the atmosphere and experience. I'll be pencilling it in as a destination on my next visit.

    The Bear
    #15
    joerogo
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 10:12:36 (permalink)
    buffetbuster, This is truly a classic, once in a lifetime experience. You did an outstanding job of capturing the essence of Jozsa Corner.

    I want you to take some time and go back over this report.

    The twins playing the piano and the owner singing back in the kitchen.

    Your sister serving the soup, just like you were at home.

    The twins get tired, so they lay down on the couch and take a nap. Now remember, you're still in a restaurant.

    And the food, the wonderful home cooked food.


    You luck dog!

    It appeared like you were the only patrons there. Does he stagger the appointments?

    Also, Beautiful family.

    #16
    leethebard
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 10:26:06 (permalink)
    This is an experience ..an event...a memory of a life-time...not a meal...WOw....If a person made an appointment(if I am NOT too bold) what does this cost????
    #17
    Mosca
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 10:28:54 (permalink)
    Oh, man. Awesome. Pittsburgh.
    #18
    mamaduck43
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 11:31:30 (permalink)
    OMG!!!!! My Nana used to serve dinners that looked just like this - - I have tears rolling down my face as the memories of sitting at the old wooden table in her kitchen in Brentwood flood into my brain.... I think that the only difference would be that Nana served the sour cream on the side, but it was always there....

    What an amazing experience and a perfect celebration for you mothers birthday....

    BB, you have a beautiful family - - thank you for sharing.....
    #19
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 13:55:51 (permalink)
    leethebard-
    It cost $15.00 per person. By the time we added the giant pan of stuffed cabbages (I believe there was a dozen of them), it ended up being $150.00. Needless to say, we also left a large tip. Every one of us felt that they more than got their money's worth.

    joerogo-
    Thank you for the kind words. This really was one of the most memorable meals I have ever had. Alex treated us like we were his friends and family instead of customers. I know a couple of people got hugs on the way out.

    We were the only people there. He does have hours posted on the outside, but we showed up during the posted hours and the closed sign was in the window. Maybe he closes when a group has an appointment. With it being a one man operation, the hours really are at the whim of the owner. I would never go here without calling first.

    ScreenBear-
    I hope you are able to check it out on your next visit to Pittsburgh. But, don't forget to call ahead to make sure he is open first. If you want some company, let me know.

    mamaduck43-
    I'm glad to hear that this brought back some good memories for you. Even though I am mostly German, my grandmother made all kinds of Eastern European dishes, so this was quite a trip back through time for us, too.
    #20
    jm199
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 14:23:29 (permalink)



    Buffetbuster-Wonderful Roadfood report.

    For those who are interested, Alex Jozsa Bodnar and the Jozsa Corner restaurant in Hazelwood was featured in Rick Sebak's documentary, What Makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh. It is available online.

    My 83 yr old Slovak mother makes fantastic halushki each and every week, along with stuffed cabbage rolls and pierogies. No wonder why I go to the gym six days a week!
    #21
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 14:30:32 (permalink)
    jm199-
    I thought I had seen most if not all of the Rick Sebak Pittsburgh shows, but obviously, I missed that one. Thanks for the info! I will have to buy that one.

    BTW, you are very lucky to have a grandmother cooking like that. I can only imagine how good her pierogies and stuffed cabbage are!
    #22
    leethebard
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 17:03:45 (permalink)
    $15.00 per person for all that delicious food is a great buy!!!
    #23
    ann peeples
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 17:16:28 (permalink)
    Gosh-Fantastic!!!!!!
    #24
    justmeincal
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/22 20:28:33 (permalink)
    What a wonderful and amazing experience! And the food looked to die for.
    #25
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2008/11/24 11:12:20 (permalink)
    I appreciate the compliments. If we ever try again and have a Pittsburgh meet & greet, this place would be ideal. I can't imagine any Roadfooder not loving this place!
    #26
    joerogo
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2009/07/06 20:12:16 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    I appreciate the compliments. If we ever try again and have a Pittsburgh meet & greet, this place would be ideal. I can't imagine any Roadfooder not loving this place!

     
    Hmmmmm, A Pittsburgh meet & greet..............


    #27
    Purcell429
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2009/07/07 00:16:10 (permalink)
    Thank you for this thread! I drive past this place on my way to work every day, but I always assumed it had closed down, as I rarely see anyone there!  I will definitely have to check this place out, is there a minimum number of people you need or anything? Seems it would be best for large groups.
    #28
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2009/07/07 13:38:14 (permalink)
    Purcell429-
    I agree with you, the place sure doesn't look busy or even open from the outside.  Don't know about a minimum.  I wouldn't recommend going with less than the seven that were in our party, since there was so much food.  If you go, please report back. 
    #29
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Jozsa Corner/Pittsburgh 2009/09/16 08:33:28 (permalink)
    We have a couple more birthdays this week, so my family will be back at Jozsa Corner for lunch this afternoon.  Hopefully, the experience and the food will be as wonderful.  I will have my camera and if there are some different dishes than last time, I will post them here.
    #30
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