Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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342 Island Avenue
April 21, 2010 10:04 PM
Pittsburgh is a city with a proud Eastern European heritage. Despite the number of Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian immigrants who came here, there are relatively few restaurants that reflect that heritage. Most of this type of cooking is done in homes and, especially, churches. One exception is Pierogies Plus.
Located in the tough, but safe, McKees Rocks neighborhood, Pierogies Plus has many charms. The building itself is further proof of the Roadfood axiom that great food can often be found in former gas stations. They have spruced up the exterior in recent years by adding three tables with chairs, potted plants, and a fresh coat of paint. Service is friendly and the woman who takes your order will undoubtedly have an accent as thick as borscht, which reassures that you are in good hands. There is a sign hanging outside with a smiling pierogi and the house motto, "prepared with tender loving care."
But the reason you come here is for the food. The menu is small and consists mainly of pierogies, haluski (noodles and cabbage), and stuffed cabbage. If you call at least two days ahead of time, they offer a large selection of pierogi stuffings, including apricot, jalapeno, spinach, and lekvar. But walk-ins still have potato and cheese, sauerkraut and cheese, cottage cheese, and meat to choose from. No matter what you order, the pierogies are superb. They are larger than is typical and come bathed in a pool of butter and finely cut onions. These pierogies are soft enough to be easily cut with plastic forks. The sauerkraut pierogi, to my taste, is best, as the sauerkraut blends with the butter and dough for an especially delicious combination.
The stuffed cabbage, full of ground meat and rice, floats in a tangy, sweet tomato sauce. The haluski is cooked until it is baby food-soft and is almost impossible to stop eating. If you want to try all three, the sampler platter is the recommended way to go. Beverage choices are limited to cans of soda and bottles of water. And even though they have carrot cake and other desserts, I usually end my meal with some of their tapioca or rice pudding.
Pierogies Plus has recently added some specials; on my last visit, I also ordered the kielbasa sandwich. Not particularly big, it comes on a Mancini roll, with or without kraut. The kielbasa is thick with a reddish-brown exterior that snaps when you bite into it. Extremely juicy and flavorful, it is a real bargain at $3.50.
A couple notes of warning: Pierogies Plus is open Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends. And the parking lot is small, so you may have to park on the street.
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