We spent some time a couple of Saturdays ago in Driver’s Village, a mishmash of a suburban mall if there ever was one, and a small locally owned restaurant in Solvay. Staggering how you can have such completely different experiences in places separated by 15 miles and a 15-minute drive.
Wife L and I had gone to the auto mall in Cicero for the monthly folksmarch. I guess the folks keep it inside in what is supposed to be the heart of our winter. We walked, probably not the full 5K, past a couple of retail shops and just a few of the thousands of cars on display in the auto mall.
Driver’s Village, with its famous clock dating back to its days as the Penn Cann Mall, also houses a conference center, the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, such as it is, and a huge miniature train display. Talk about a little of this and a little of that, eh?
Afterward, driving south on Route 11 past several diners that looked interesting, we opted instead to make a quick call to see if Eva’s European Sweets restaurant and coffee shop was open for lunch. A reader had recommend Eva’s, and I wanted to visit for myself. It was indeed open, though we were actually too early. So we stopped first at Ascioti’s Market, just down the street from Eva’s on Milton Avenue.
We struck gold at Ascioti’s, which has been around for nearly 100 years. As we perused the meat counter we overheard patron after patron order the meatball mix. We ended up buying some, which we cooked up later in the week, and loved it. We also bought three delicious stuffed pork chops, wonderful bread from DiLauro’s bakery, and pasta fagioli, which turned out to be from Hapanowicz’s in Utica!
A great hometown market.
We drove past the smokestacks of the gigantic RockTenn paperboard plant and stepped inside Eva’s, becoming the first customers of the day. The Polish restaurant, which opened in 1997, is warm and cozy inside. We walked past the dessert case, which was hard to do, and to our table. The walls are stenciled, and there are Polish dolls, glassware, and other items adorning the walls and shelves. It is interesting, like visiting your grandma’s house, and I enjoyed moving from the main dining room to the two back rooms inspecting all the items.
There is a variety of pierogies to sample, including sauerkraut and bacon and mushroom and potato. We ordered six of the warm envelopes filled with potato and cheese, and they were delicious.
I had kielbasa for my main meal. The three links came with delicious red cabbage and roasted potatoes. I dunked my kielbasa in a homemade horseradish-mustard sauce that gave just a little more spark to each bite. Wife L had a wonderful dish with tender chunks of beef in a rich, brown gravy. It came with bite-sized dumplings and red cabbage.
This is stick-to-your-ribs kind of food. Hearty, delicious, and filling. There are cabbage rolls, potato pancakes, veal and chicken cutlets, and more. The restaurant also offers a wide variety of Eastern European beers, all for $4.99 a bottle. The most expensive item on the menu was about $12.
If you want authentic ethnic food at a price you can afford, stop at Eva’s. And if you get there too early, make sure to stop at Ascioti’s so you can prepare a few great meals on your own at home.