New York’s Russian nightspots often are flashy, over the top, and not for everyone. “I tend to like places that are smaller and less showy,” says StrawbrryF, a Russian hound. Here are some of her humbler favorites:
In Queens, she recommends Emerald in Rego Park, especially for kebabs and other meat dishes; standouts include lamb and beef, served with spicy tomato sauce. Also good: samsa (meat-filled pastries), fresh-baked flatbreads, and a simple spring salad. While Emerald isn’t the Vegas-style showroom you might find in Brighton Beach, on weekends you can “expect to listen to a singer and watch drunk Russian people celebrate birthdays/anniversaries, etc.,” StrawbrryF notes.
In Brooklyn, she likes Stolovaya, a modest, dinerlike spot in Sheepshead Bay, known for its pelmeni (meat dumplings). “Here,” she says, “there will never be a show: there’s simply no room. Just some good ol’ fashioned eating in unpretentious surroundings.” nokitsch, in dissent, suggests that Stolovaya has gone downhill.
In the flashy/over-the-top category, ConOrama endorses the Brighton Beach showplace Tatiana, which delivered “more food, vodka and gaudiness than I had ever seen in my life,” highlighted by delicious grilled lamb chops. At Tatiana and other palaces of food, drink, and show biz, nokitsch says don’t expect true Russian food, but instead eclectic Russian-continental fare where “you will sooner see things like eel and duck salad rather than pelmeni. It’s still great fun though. Russian kitsch = best kitsch in the world.”
Emerald [Rego Park]
97-04 Queens Boulevard (near 64th Road), Rego Park, Queens
Stolovaya [Sheepshead Bay]
813 Avenue U (between East Eighth and Ninth streets), Brooklyn
Tatiana [Brighton Beach]
3152 Brighton Sixth Street (at Brightwater Court), Brooklyn
Board Link: Tatiana Restaurant and Club, Brighton Beach