Most people know about Coney Island, but not many are familiar with Brighton Beach. You know what’s funny about that? The latter is actually part of the same exact stretch of coast as the former. If you’re at Coney Island, enjoying the rides and hot dogs, just keep walking east and you’ll get to Brighton Beach in no time. You don’t even have to leave the boardwalk! As you head there, everything seems to get a little more peaceful, a little more quiet. Keep an eye out for Russian people and businesses–that’s when you know you’re in Brighton Beach.
I’m always curious what makes a certain ethnic group cluster and settle somewhere. In terms of Brighton Beach, Russian-speaking people arrived from Odessa, Ukraine in the ’40s and ’50s. Then, in late ’80s and ’90s, many Russians moved here when the Soviet Union collapsed. Because of the area’s demographics, it’s been known over time as both “Little Odessa” and “Little Russia.” And interesting fact: In 2011, a majority of the 55,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City resided in Brighton Beach.
While I’ve experienced Ukranian food at Veselka, I hadn’t actually eaten at a Russian restaurant in the city before. What better place to do so than Brighton Beach! Skovordoka is one of the highest rated restaurants in the area, so my friends and I decided to meet there for a late lunch before strolling along the water.
There are three different ways you can order at Skovorodka. The a la carte menu, the banquet menu, and the lunch special menu (assuming you’re here Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM). The a la carte menu has quite a few options, ranging from salads to cold and hot appetizers to soups to entrees. If you want to go the banquet route, there are different selections you can choose from that vary in price per person from $50 to $115. This seems like a great way to try a bunch of what the restaurant has to offer if you happen to be celebrating something or just want to treat yourself.
My three friends and I decided to order some dishes to share as we weren’t quite hungry enough to do a full-on banquet. We got the duck salad with homemade dressing (spring mixed greens, duck meat, tangerine, and nuts), pelmeni Siberian (traditional Russian dumplings), “Skovorodka” style pirogies, and the “Skovorodka” signature short ribs. There’s my way of thinking again that if it has the restaurant name in it, it must be the thing to get! I’m such a sucker.
Lucky me, everything was tasty and the item names weren’t a trick! I think we did a pretty good job of estimating how much food to order for all four of us as we were only left with a little bit of the short rib and salad by the end of the meal. In other words, we devoured both kinds of dumplings. Pelmeni Siberian are different from pierogi because they have thinner dough and aren’t served with sweet fillings. And because I keep learning interesting facts, here’s some more for you: There’s a theory that pelmeni were adapted in Siberia from the Chinese wonton, and supposedly, they’re a good way to preserve meat during the Siberian winter. These were served with what seemed like sour cream but was much more liquidy. All around addicting. The “Skovorodka” style pirogies are unlike another other pirogi or dumpling I’ve had before–they really seemed more like fried dough balls with a breadier texture. Still, totally delicious.
Overall, the prices were quite reasonable, and I felt like we got a lot of bang for our buck. Word online is that the borscht and stroganoff are winners, so I might just have to see for myself my next trip to the beach!
Duck salad with homemade dressing, pelmeni Siberian, “Skovorodka” style pirogies, “Skoborodka” signature short ribs
615 Brighton Beach Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235