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Al's Corner Restaurant

545 West Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton, OH - (330) 475-7978
Posted By Nathan Gabay on 3/30/2011 3:56:00 PM
Barberton, Ohio is referred to as "The Magic City," and if Al's Corner Restaurant is any indication, it's a moniker that's well-earned.

Barberton was an industrial boom town in the early 20th century; the population doubled between 1900 and 1910, then again between 1910 and 1920. With the great waves of immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe settling in the area, traditional ethnic food became the norm. And in the case of Al's, it's still going strong.

The fairly small menu is dominated by the traditional foods: chicken paprikas, haluska (sauteed cabbage and dumplings), cabbage rolls, pierogies, fresh-made sausage (two different options), and sauerkraut. If the sampler platter is ordered (which I strongly recommend), a decent serving of each of the above is provided. Add in a fountain drink and it still doesn't hit $10 for one person.

Although I personally am not a fan of haluska, Al's serves exactly what it's supposed to be. The size of the dumplings and the cabbage are spot-on, the main ingredients are slightly bonded without being packed, and the texture has that perfect buttery mouthfeel. The cabbage rolls are succulent and flavorful without being overwhelming, the pierogies are cooked al dente, and the sausage (which comes from Al's Quality Market just down the street) has that familiar, powerful depth of flavor.

But the real mark of quality is clear in the chicken paprikas. With that beautiful, vivid orange-red color, it passes the eyeball test easily. But it has the flavor to match, which in itself is extremely uncommon. The chicken falls off the bone and that beautiful sauce tastes simply exquisite. It's far and away the best paprikas I've had in the state of Ohio that doesn't come from my own kitchen.

For a true taste of Magic, Al's in the Magic City is an absolute must-stop.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Chicken Paprikash
Sampler Plate
Rate this place
I was fortunate enough to snag the first piece of cherry strudel after it came out of the oven.
"I was fortunate enough to snag the first piece of cherry strudel after it came out of the oven."
Cliff Strutz





Here's Al's sampler plate, going clockwise from 9 o'clock:  stuffed cabbage roll, dumplings and cabbage(barely visible), sausage and sauerkraut, pierogie sauteed in butter and onions. In the center is chicken paprikash.
"Here's Al's sampler plate, going clockwise from 9 o'clock: stuffed cabbage roll, dumplings and cabbage(barely visible), sausage and sauerkraut, pierogie sauteed in butter and onions. In the center is chicken paprikash."
Michael Stern


On the left, mashed potatoes; on the right, halushka: carboheaven.
"On the left, mashed potatoes; on the right, halushka: carboheaven."
Michael Stern


Paprikash is a brilliant balancing act of spice and cream cosseting painfully tender hunks of chicken.
"Paprikash is a brilliant balancing act of spice and cream cosseting painfully tender hunks of chicken."
Michael Stern


Here are some of the different spice mixes that butcher Denny Gray uses to make sausages at Al's butcher shop.
"Here are some of the different spice mixes that butcher Denny Gray uses to make sausages at Al's butcher shop."
Michael Stern


Dumplings are a side dish that automatically come with chicken paprikash, but if you order anything else, do yourself a favor and accompany it with these buttery beauties, here mixed with bits of cabbage.
"Dumplings are a side dish that automatically come with chicken paprikash, but if you order anything else, do yourself a favor and accompany it with these buttery beauties, here mixed with bits of cabbage."
Michael Stern


The ham and corn chowder is wonderfully creamy.
"The ham and corn chowder is wonderfully creamy."
Cliff Strutz


We were first in line when Al's doors opened at 11am, walking in to see this clean and well-ordered dining room. While not neat-freaks, we swooned at just how tidy everything was.
"We were first in line when Al's doors opened at 11am, walking in to see this clean and well-ordered dining room. While not neat-freaks, we swooned at just how tidy everything was. "
Michael Stern


For a first time visitor to Al's, the sampler plate is the way to go.  But with food this good, it is impossible to make a bad choice.  (Click on the photo to read the menu.)
"For a first time visitor to Al's, the sampler plate is the way to go. But with food this good, it is impossible to make a bad choice. (Click on the photo to read the menu.)"
Cliff Strutz


At the corner of Fourth and Tuscarawas in downtown Barberton, Ohio: a beacon of fine Hungarian plate lunch.
"At the corner of Fourth and Tuscarawas in downtown Barberton, Ohio: a beacon of fine Hungarian plate lunch."
Michael Stern


A half block away from the lunch room is Al's butcher shop, where the restaurant's sausages are made, and where the shelves hold a full repertoire of smoky links, netted cottage hams, stingers (extremely spicy snack sticks), twice-smoked bacon frosted with garlic and paprika, and head cheese.
"A half block away from the lunch room is Al's butcher shop, where the restaurant's sausages are made, and where the shelves hold a full repertoire of smoky links, netted cottage hams, stingers (extremely spicy snack sticks), twice-smoked bacon frosted with garlic and paprika, and head cheese."
Michael Stern



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