Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is naturally a rich hunting ground for Polish meats–but its bustling butcher shops can scare off outsiders who don’t know the turf or speak the language. ballulah (with an assist from Mom, who grew up in Krakow) shares some current favorites–and a few insider tips:
Sikorski: Greenpoint’s premier one-stop butcher, in ballulah’s book, is especially strong in sausage. Don’t miss superior biala kielbasa, the fresh white sausage that’s great in zurek (white borscht) or roasted with onions. And if they bring out a batch of roast schab (pork loin), follow your nose. “I challenge you not to buy a whole hunk fresh from the oven,” ballulah adds. “I can’t imagine a better smell in the world.” Also recommended: smoked spare ribs, kabanosy (thin air-dried sausage), pasztecik (a coarse, rustic pate), fresh slab bacon, krajana or wiejska kielbasa, and white horseradish (terrific with kielbasy). The staff is friendlier and more helpful than at many rival shops. Look for Andy, the jovial, red-faced butcher quick to pass out samples.
Steve’s Meat Market is a perennial favorite for first-rate meat and accommodating service. Recommended for any sausage, especially kabanosy–fresh, dried, or spicy, with powerful black pepper kick. KRS places Steve’s on top of the heap, right up with Kurowycky in the East Village.
Beata: Its rustic, double-smoked krajana sausage is just like what ballulah’s mom grew up with in Krakow. It’s available only late on Fridays and early on Saturdays.
W-Nassau Meat Market: This solid all-around butcher draws long lines for its well-priced fresh meats, including pork or veal cutlets and gorgeous whole cuts, which they’ll cube within seconds if you’re shopping for a stew or goulash. Parowki (large hot dog-shaped sausages) are exceptional, says ballulah, but other kielbasy and cold cuts show troubling signs of “liquid smoke” and other shortcuts.
Polam has delicious cold cuts, exceptional pickles, and fresh house-made ham studded with whole garlic cloves.
Hunting for meat sharpens the appetite, so you may want to drop in at Cafe Relax for a shopping break. Entrees (check out the handwritten menu above the counter) are typically enormous, served with two sides, and under $6. Try dill-laden zurek (white borscht) with hard boiled egg and mashed potato (dip small spoonfuls of the potato into the soup as you go). Other smart orders: pierogi (boiled or fried), nalesniki (stuffed crepes), potato pancakes, and pork or chicken cutlets. Among the sides, raw sauerkraut salad, mashed potatoes, buraczki (beets), and cucumber-sour cream salad are especially good.
Sikorski Meat Market [Greenpoint]
603 Manhattan Ave., between Nassau and Driggs, Brooklyn
Steve’s Meat Market [Greenpoint]
104 Nassau Ave., between Leonard and Eckford Sts., Brooklyn
Kurowycky Meat Products [East Village]
124 1st Ave., between St. Marks Pl. and E. 7th St., Manhattan
Beata Delicatessen [Greenpoint]
984 Manhattan Ave., between India and Huron Sts., Brooklyn
W-Nassau Meat Market [Greenpoint]
915 Manhattan Ave., between Kent St. and Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn
Polam International [Greenpoint]
952 Manhattan Ave., between Java and India Sts., Brooklyn
Cafe Relax [Greenpoint]
68 Newel St., near Nassau Ave., Brooklyn