>> Kopernik Polish Deli | Eat the World NYC

15 August 2019

Kopernik Polish Deli


The neighborhood of Rockaway Park is always spoken of as heavily Irish, but a walk down the two blocks of Beach 116th Street, the main commercial drag in the area, does not give this away. It has the feel of any random neighborhood in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx with takeout Chinese and sushi joints, a red sauce Italian restaurant, pizzeria, some clothing stores, and yes one Irish pub. To get a better sense of the Irish community here, come on the day of the Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade, the second largest in New York City.

Amidst all of this, and just off of Beach 116th Street is a small and modern looking Polish deli by the name of Kopernik. This address has been home to a Polish deli for the better part of ten years, but this iteration is less than two years old. It does not seem like much on first inspection, but it turns out to be the perfect place to pick up food for a little picnic on the beach.

On any given day there are always plenty of gołąbki ($3 each, above), and these should not be missed. A solid filling of deliciously spiced minced pork is wrapped in boiled cabbage and can be sliced up easily even without a proper table or cutlery. A whole tray of these is usually available, but do not take too many as they are quite filling.

Instead, grab a cup of chłodnik ($3.99, below) also. This creamy beet soup is meant to be eaten cold and perfect for a hot beach day, nevermind the fact that you only have access to a cooler and not a stove or microwave. This is a staple of humid summers in Poland, immediately transforming your day at the Rockaways into the northern beaches on Baltic Sea shores. The beets, crunchy cucumbers, yogurt, sour cream, and dill all taste so fresh and act as an immediate coolant.

Another perfect score from the daily offerings is pasztet cielęco-wieprzowy (below) sold for $6.50/lb. This is a pork and veal pate or spread that is soft and savory. Unlike some French pâté, it seems lighter and not as liver-forward, allowing you to eat many slices of bread with it. A rack of loaves is there for selection, but the proprietor recommended a white rye bread (chleb zytni) to pair with it perfectly.

There are a few desserts available, but the iconic Polish pączek (below, plural: pączki) is irresistable. Grab one for each person in your group, as the fluffy pastry is hard to share given that the jelly filling never makes its way thoroughly through it and half the fun is finding that perfectly-proportioned bite. Unlike jelly donuts, pączki dough is made with a small amount of grain alcohol that acts to keep any of the deep frying oils from getting to the chewy interior. Chef's kiss.

On weekends the selection is larger, with pierogi and other items available for purchase already cooked. If they do not offer you a side automatically, grab a small container of sour cream and really get in the spirit. Kopernik also has plenty of packaged goods so all your crunchy and sweet beach snack needs can be fulfilled Eastern European style.

Kopernik Polish Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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