Got a nice email earlier this week from Tomasz Skowronski, who, with his girlfriend, Kate Lasky, put on the regular Pierogi Night
pop-up dinners at the Stephen Foster Community Center in Lawrenceville.
They're hosting what looks to be their biggest from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. this Saturday, Pierogi Night vs. Banh Mi.
The vegan buffet of Eastern European dumplings and Vietnamese sandwiches is $10 and you can take away a meal for $10, too.
Meanwhile, just this morning, the couple launched a Kickstarter.com crowd-funding campaign
for their long-planned brick-and-mortar restaurant and bar, Apteka.
Mr. Skowronski reported Wednesday that "we just signed a lease today on a space." He got the keys that morning to the building at 4606 Penn Ave., which he described as "kind of in the no-man's land between Bloomfield and Lawrenceville, right across from the Allegheny Cemetery."
He predicted the restaurant -- its name is Polish for pharmacy and one that you see all over Eastern Europe -- could open by early this fall. They're looking to raise $40,000 by May 3. "We're going to be focusing on Central and Eastern European food." You can learn more about it in the Kickstarter pitch.
He shared more details from a blurb for their newly updated website
: Apteka is a new restaurant springing from our Lawrenceville pop-up event, Pierogi Night. About every month for the last four years, we've hosted an event where we make pierogi paired with a guest food. At every event we explore different regional dishes, often favorite street foods from around the world. We research and experiment with these dishes to seek ways in which we can reproduce them in a way that's true to their original design but innovated with different ingredients and techniques to create new and interesting food. In the spirit of this pop-up, Apteka aims to go back to the start and examine and innovate upon the food that inspired us from the beginning. The Rust Belt has deep roots in Eastern and Central Europe. We aim to celebrate and color in those ties, as well as add to this relationship a better understanding of the food and aesthetics of these countries. Apteka will be an unique space that examines the food from this region through a modern perspective and a global pallete to provide an eatery that’s as much a product of Pittsburgh’s past as it is its future. The restaurant will deliver a menu that's made completely in house, uniquely centered around vegetables and representing a more comprehensive Eastern European cuisine of dishes that focus on fresh produce, mushrooms, pickles, heavy breads, soups, and pastries, making the menu ideal for vegans and vegetarians. The bar and space will be simple but curated, starring a lineup of unique Eastern European staples but served alongside mixed drinks that we've all grown to expect. In this spirit, Apteka aims to keep the food & drinks affordable to provide a space with a dark but cozy atmosphere that's as much staple for dinner as it is a space for gathering. We hope to see you soon!
The menu specifics won't be announced until closer to opening, but they elaborated a little:
"The restaurant will be vegan like Pierogi Night, and cooking this way has encouraged us to highlight interesting ingredients. With Tomasz going back to Poland every year to visit family, and the time we've spent traveling around the region, we've gotten to love a lot of foods that remain rare and a little exotic here. We cook with a lot of different kaszas,
foraged mushrooms and fruit; we bake hearty and dense breads; we smoke and pickle a lot of produce. As much as our menu will have our take on favorite staples, we plan on having some interesting new dishes that rely on certain ingredients we think are really special and represent areas of this region but aren't what you'd see in a cookbook."
They planned to dole out further details of this stage of their dream in coming days.
But first, they have a bunch of pierogies to cook and serve, with banh mi.
Here's a photo the couple posted to Facebook in announcing the news, showing them before and after signing the lease.Pierogi Night graphic at top