There’s more to Russian cuisine than beet soup and vodka. In fact, there are salads, stews and seafood — along with meat dishes, dumplings and so much more. Try it all for yourself by heading to one of our favorite Russian restaurants in Manhattan or Brooklyn. By Jessica Allen.
Mari Vanna seeks to transport guests from a lovely block in the Flatiron District to a charming, old-school Russian apartment, complete with matryoshka (nesting) dolls, an antique camera, a violin, chandeliers and authentic photographs. The food is equally transporting: on the menu you’ll find cured herring, pickled vegetables, chicken Kiev, veal pelmeni (traditional dumplings), sliced beef tongue, caviar, and blinis. The restaurant is especially jumping on Monday evenings.
One of the only bars/restaurants in the city (if not the world) to offer vodka on tap, Masha & the Bear is a Russian restaurant for the global 21st century. Each vodka is locally made, chilled to an ideal 38 degrees, and comes in such flavors as horseradish, honey, and borscht. And each one pairs perfectly with the standard Russian fare on offer, from fish soup to blintzes to green borscht (made from spinach) to the Soviet era-Olivier salad (with chicken, may, and veggies). Not crazy about vodka? Try the Dirty Borscht cocktail.
Onegin takes its name from Eugene Onegin, a novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin, and the restaurant itself takes its inspiration from the imperial, 19th-century Russia, with plush seats, chandeliers and candles, and portraits of people clad in frills on the ceiling. If it sounds over-the-top, it kind of is, but who doesn’t want to feel like an aristocrat once in a while? Try the foie gras pate, marinated wild mushrooms, smokehouse stew and special cocktails like a Pimms and Kvas (a traditional fermented beverage made from rye bread).
Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn, has no shortage of Russian restaurants, so what makes Skovorodka stand out? Why the food, of course, which skews heavily towards the Old World: think pickled watermelon, eggplant caviar, homemade lox, Georgian-style sausage, brizol (ground meat pan fried in an egg), beef stroganoff, borsht (served hot or cold), etc., etc. Burn off the calories, post-meal, by having a stroll along nearby Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk.
Like its Brighton Beach neighbor Skovorodka, Tatiana gives guests the opportunity to feast on such delicacies as kavkaz (a vegetable salad with spicy beef and feta cheese), pan-fried branzino, Cornish hen with sauerkraut and quail stuffed with quail eggs in a wine sauce. But Tatiana goes one step further by giving diners a show — including live music and cabaret performers on select evenings. Patrons tend to dress to impress, so make a reservation and be sure to follow suit.