When the weather gets colder, I always find myself craving something warm, rich and comforting to eat. Enter Koliba, an off-the-beaten-path Eastern European eatery that will knock your proverbial comfy socks off.
Koliba isn’t a new restaurant – in fact it’s been a part of the Astorian community for 10 years, but it remains well hidden. Most of the people who know about it have roots in Eastern Europe, as this little establishment represents the cuisine of Slovakia – a land of potato dumplings, hearty gravies, thin-as-paper crepes and the thickest, smokiest bacon I’ve ever sunk my teeth into.
I can assure you that your first visit to Koliba won’t be your last. “Koliba” means hut or chalet in Slovak and it exemplifies just that – its facade mimicking a humble ski cabin you’d find in the Tatra Mountains, the most prominent mountains in Slovakia. The interior is charming too, with folksy wooden furniture, handmade folk art hung on the walls as well as a big, stuffed deer head with large antlers to boot. While this may sound unusual, it’s quite the norm in Slovakia, further proving Koliba’s authenticity.
There’s never a shortage of something hot, comforting and delicious to bite into, but first you must start with beer – a nice big stein of Slovak or Czech beer to warm your belly and rosy up that complexion. My personal recommendations include Staropramen or Pilzner, which are both full bodied, strong beers.
For something scrumptious, start with fluffy langos, a raised fry bread that feels like savory zeppole dough, topped with garlic and a mild shredded cheese. Other equally exciting starters include fried cauliflower with a side of tangy tartar sauce, or for something totally different, the fried dumplings with eggs, topped with salty pickles and roasted red peppers won’t disappoint.
The main dishes at Koliba are by far the most exciting. Masters of knedlik, a soft bread dumpling, Koliba serves it alongside superstar dishes such as Beef Goulash, roasted pork loin, cooked roast duckling and more. But the piece-de-resistance is the haluski or spaetzle, which come in two varieties – sauerkraut and bacon and sheep’s milk cheese and bacon. Mmmm . . . the bacon – smoky, rich, and thick-cut, it’s by far the most flavorful of its kind in this city.
Koliba’s non-traditional atmosphere and heartfelt food do a great job of differentiating it from the traditional comfort food pack. Not only will you indulge in a feel-good culinary experience, you’ll also bite off a slice of Eastern European culture that will keep you coming back for more. Nazdravie, or as we say West of Slovakia, cheers!
31-11 23rd Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Private Parties: Yes
Major Credit Cards Accepted