“This place has the best pierogi in Warsaw,” my colleague said over dinner, conspiratorially handing me a flyer for Pierogarnia na Bednarskiej. The shiny flyer featured a blurry map placing this pierogi palace just off Skwar Hoovera, or Hoover Square (the former president was a honorary citizen of Warsaw). Listed on the other side were more than a dozen different varieties of the traditional Polish dumpling, from classics like the ruskie (potato and cheese) and kapusta (cabbage) to kinds I’d never even heard of.
The next day I was on my way to Hoover Square, my stomach growling and my mouth watering. I crossed the square and headed down ul. Bednarska, my pace quickening as a massive, vertical sign reading ‘Pierogi’ appeared about halfway down the street. The restaurant’s front room was filled with a mix of mostly local diners and a few eager-eyed tourists.
I ordered the ruskie, kapusta, and something called the babuni, meaning grandma, eliciting a confused look from the cashier—as Wikipedia puts it, “the singular form pieróg is rarely used, as a typical serving consists of several pierogi,” and these came with seven each—and a bill for 40.50 złoty, or roughly $12.86.
With my change came a receipt and a plastic numbered ticket which would turn out to be unnecessary. The late lunch crowd had thinned enough that the cashier called out to us in English when the pierogi-laden tray emerged from the kitchen. Each plate was decorated sparingly, with two cucumber slices and one tomato placed alongside the massive pierogis.
The ruskie was as filling as you’d imagine a dumpling stuffed with potato, cheese, and onion would be. The doughy shell held its starchy contents well, though it may have been too much of a good thing—it was the one plate that wasn’t scraped clean by the end of the meal. The kapusta held its own, the cabbage and mushrooms creating a thick, meaty texture. But the grandma was the surprise hit: ground meat (don’t tell me what kind, please) packed into a delicious carb blanket, topped with fried onions that added a kick of crunchy flavor.
Now, time for a nap.
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.