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Belgrade Gardens

401 East State St., Barberton, OH - (330) 745-0113
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/8/2007 2:38:00 PM
Barberton chicken, served at a handful of restaurants in the Akron suburb, is not like other fried chicken. Cooked in lard, it has an unspeakably luxurious red gold crust; and it differs from ordinary fast-food fried chicken not only by the dripping moistness its crust encases, but by its shape. It is cut the old-fashioned way into wing, drumette, breast, leg, thigh, and back, an economical technique left over from Depression days when cooks tried to maximize the number of pieces they could get from one chicken. When you sink your teeth into a piece, you may find meat where you might not expect meat; but let us assure you that every bite is delicious! It is not for nothing that Barberton lays claim to being the chicken capital of the world.

Belgrade Gardens, since 1933, is the original source of this good stuff; and while the menu is vast – including steaks, chops, seafood, sandwiches, and some really good chicken paprikash – first-time visitors need to get the full chicken dinner. You can get white or dark meat or a combination or a plate of nothing but legs, thighs, backs, wings or tenders. Each is available small, medium, and large.

The chicken itself is the center of a ritual feast that also includes a bowl of spicy tomato-rice hot sauce that is positively addictive. At a table near ours, a woman was telling her friends that she used to come to Belgrade Gardens every week. "My mother would always take home hot sauce to try to duplicate the recipe," she said. "She came close, but father never allowed that she had done it." In addition to the sauce, you get a timbale of sweet cole slaw, and a fistful of French fries plus a basket of white and dark bread.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
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A red-brown envelope of crust distinguishes lard-fried Barberton chicken. It is good and salty and sturdy enough to hold in tidal waves of juice that flow out at first bite.
"A red-brown envelope of crust distinguishes lard-fried Barberton chicken. It is good and salty and sturdy enough to hold in tidal waves of juice that flow out at first bite. "
Michael Stern





Barberton chicken hot sauce is a dish of spicy stewed tomatoes that is a bright relish with zest and moistness that are a foil for the crunchy crust of the chicken.
"Barberton chicken hot sauce is a dish of spicy stewed tomatoes that is a bright relish with zest and moistness that are a foil for the crunchy crust of the chicken. "
Michael Stern


Belgrade Garden's chicken paprikash is terrific. It comes with big 4x2-inch dumplings that are great for soaking in the peppery sauce.
"Belgrade Garden's chicken paprikash is terrific. It comes with big 4x2-inch dumplings that are great for soaking in the peppery sauce. "
Michael Stern


Chicken soup is loaded with little noodles and bits of meat.
"Chicken soup is loaded with little noodles and bits of meat. "
Michael Stern


The dumplings in chicken dumpling soup are big, soft pillows of dough.
"The dumplings in chicken dumpling soup are big, soft pillows of dough. "
Michael Stern


The slaw arrives in a handsome timbale. It is simple slaw: tart more than sweet, with a nice cabbage crunch.
"The slaw arrives in a handsome timbale. It is simple slaw: tart more than sweet, with a nice cabbage crunch."
Michael Stern


Belgrade Gardens is a big, popular restaurant with multiple dining rooms and spacious booths. There is a second location at 3476 Massillon Rd. in Uniontown.
"Belgrade Gardens is a big, popular restaurant with multiple dining rooms and spacious booths. There is a second location at 3476 Massillon Rd. in Uniontown."
Michael Stern



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