2009-05-BarbarasHungarianRestaurant
Waitress Brigitta Sltrunga and co-owner Barbara Kolarovszki, with a plate of chicken paprikas. (Staff photo by Diccon Hyatt.)

Whether Hungarian cuisine is familiar or foreign to you, there’s a new place to go for a taste of the real deal: Barbara’s Hungarian Food. The restaurant, just opened in Ewing, offers everything from goulash to green beans prepared from memory by a Hungarian cook.

Laszlo Kolarovszki and his wife Barbara came to New Jersey from Hungary nine years ago with a stock of family recipes and a desire to make it in America. Laszlo (interviewed with translation help from his friend Eva Csige) said Barbara was the family cook before she and Laszlo set up a Hungarian food stand at the flea market in New Brunswick, where they gained a loyal following of customers. When the flea market closed last year, the Kolarovskis began looking for a new place to set up shop. They found it in Serenity Plaza. Now their six-table, 24-seat restaurant is preparing traditional Hungarian meals six days a week.

“Everyone who is hungry or Hungarian should stop by,” Csige said.

Kolarovski is part of a small Hungarian population in Mercer County. There is a Hungarian Reform Church in Trenton, but to get Hungarian food, you have to go to all the way to New Brunswick, where Kolarovski lives.

There are plenty of Italian and Polish restaurants to sample, but Hungarian food may not be as familiar to Ewing palates. To connoisseurs like Kolarovski, that’s a shame.

As a central European country, Hungary received culinary influences from all across Europe and Asia. Its cuisine is mostly a mix of French, Italian, German, eastern European and middle eastern styles.

Specialties at Barbara’s include goulash (thick beef stew), stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikas (a creamy chicken dish flavored with paprika) and several kinds of fozelek. Kolarovski described fozelek as a vegetable dish thickened with rue, somewhere between a soup and a stew, that is a good way to eat a veggie main dish that’s heartier than just steamed vegetables.

Entrees are between $9 and $12. The restaurant also offers catering services, and a service where customers can buy a week’s worth of meals at a time and take them home. Kolarovski said there are already several flea market customers who are using this service. Kolarovski, a facilities manager at the Amelio Solar, a solar power manufacturing company in Ewing, said he, his wife and one waitress are running the restaurant by themselves.

Barbara’s Hungarian Food is located at 1400 Parkway Ave., and is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call (732) 801-5537.

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Diccon Hyatt is business editor of U.S. 1. He has worked for Community News since 2006 and was previously community editor of the Ewing Observer, the Hopewell Express, the Lawrence Gazette, and the Trenton Downtowner. From 2003 to 2006, he was a general assignment reporter for the Middletown Transcript in Middletown, Delaware. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Delaware, where he was features editor of the student newspaper, The Review. He has won numerous awards from the Maryland-Delaware D.C. Press Association and the Association of Free Community Newspapers for features, news, and opinion writing. He is married and lives in Marlton, NJ.