"YOU LOOK FAMISHED."
That's the sign greeting customers upon entering Europa Delicatessen, a little gem of a restaurant tucked away in a corner shopping center at South Boundary Street and Louisiana Avenue in Perrysburg.
The words are an invitation to vanquish your hunger with what amounts to a Hungarian rhapsody of good food for a few dollars and change - marvelous eastern European dishes such as stuffed cabbage, Tuesday-only paprikas with noodles and sweet cucumber salad, a half-dozen daily soups, panini sandwiches with celebrity monikers, several desserts, and wondrous Hungarian deviled eggs that threaten to steal the show, no matter what else you ordered.
Europa, located in the Shoppes at South Boundary across from Perrysburg's better-known Country Charm Shopping Center, is owned by Gabriel and Maggie Gall, who are approaching the deli's first-year anniversary. Both were engineers in their neighboring countries - she chemical and he electrical, she Hungarian and he Romanian.
They opened the deli last April. The emphasis is on Hungarian, though one of the soups is Romanian country style vegetable and one of the paninis is Count Dracula Spicy, a whimsical nod to Gabriel's Transylvanian upbringing.
The eatery has only six tables, along with paper menus, paper plates, cardboard soup bowls, and Styrofoam boxes for big portions of paprikas and stuffed cabbages. But the couple's chatty friendliness and good food more than offset the modest amenities.
On any given day, the soups beckon, and if you're unsure of which to order, the proprietors offer samples of any or all. Among our choices, going from an eight-ounce side ($2.97) to a 16-ounce bowl ($4.97), were Italian Meatball crammed with meat, creamy Provencale potato, flavorful Romanian vegetable, Tuscan bean, and spicy Hungarian goulash soup.
Hearty sandwiches, most of them priced at $4.75, range from the Rocky Balboa (baked ham, salami, and provolone) and the Raquel Welch (smoked turkey and swiss cheese) to the John Wayne (a rather too tepid meatloaf with three-mustard mayo), and the Sophia Loren (smoked ham, salami, and provolone).
Also on the menu are a croissant stuffed with a choice of fruity or garlicky chicken salad, and a Mediterranean veggie with French feta cheese.
As mentioned, Tuesday is a good day to drop by because of the chicken paprikas with dumplings ($9.97), served with a choice of white or dark meat. I opted for the white and got a very large breast smothered in thick dumpling noodles. On most days, customers can order sauted cabbage and noodles ($4.99 a pound), stuffed cabbage rolls ($1.99 each), and other prepared foods. The cabbage rolls, each enough for a meal, are among the best I've had, at home or other Hungarian bistros around town.
As a fancier of deviled eggs, I ordered the Galls' Hungarian take on the traditional recipe and fell in love at first bite. Maggie brought out two whole deviled eggs with yolks that contained a "secret," she said: a dollop of liver pate mixed in. The eggs were coddled in creamy mayonnaise and sour cream with a kiss of dry mustard - a heavenly combination. And the price? 50 cents each. I'll race you to the door.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org