If you have a hankering for some piquant pierogies, it is well-established that Philadelphia’s riverwards are the place to find a favorite bite of this Polish delicacy — especially during Green Rock Tavern’s Pierogi Week, which takes place from Feb. 26 through March 4.
With the area’s strong Polish roots and culture, it’s no surprise that pierogies are such a hot commodity. And with younger generations moving into the community and immersing themselves in local traditions, pierogies have been finding an even broader fan base.
At the Green Rock Tavern, 2546 E. Lehigh Ave., the annual Pierogi Week brings out the best in pierogies. From unique flavors like its pork, peanut butter and Nutella pierogies, to more common styles like potato and cheese and sauerkraut pierogies, Green Rock has dreamed up new tastes for everyone.
And in keeping with Polish tradition, each variation always contains potatoes.
Jamie Mahon, who owns the Green Rock Tavern with his sister, Nicole Mahon, is pleased with the weeklong neighborhood celebration they have created.
“At this bar, we take simple food and we make it good,” said Mahon, who has been hosting Pierogi Week for three years.
The event also occurs at a generally slow time of year for the tavern, so it allows the owners to bring in new faces and meet new friends.
“My sister and I have been here for five years now, and the neighborhood is finally getting acclimated to us,” he said. “They know we’re not going away. More than half of our clients are from the neighborhood.”
It also allows Mahon and his sister to showcase what they do best.
ldquo;I’m shocked no one has done this before. It’s a predominantly Polish neighborhood and it just seems obvious,” he said. “And I’m not even Polish.”
And local, Mahon said, is the way he and his sister like to keep things around the bar.
“A good majority of our beer is local, especially the craft stuff. I’d say that ninety percent of that comes from within forty miles. A lot of it comes from Philadelphia Brewing Company. Kenzinger is our number-one-selling beer here, and that’s because it’s fresh. They drop it off, and within four hours, I tap it and serve it. People rarely get to have a beer that’s this fresh.”
The same can be said for the pierogies offered during the weeklong celebration.
“We’ve been making pierogies in-house since day one, and we use fresh meats and as many local ingredients as we can,” Mahon added.
He and his sister regularly brainstorm new flavors. They also try to stay sensitive to their patrons’ needs — for example, there are six vegetarian pierogies.
“Nicole is the heart and soul. She’s a machine,” Mahon said.
The two split the work of making pierogies. “I make the filling, she rolls the dough, stuffs them and crimps them,” Mahon said. “Once that’s done, I boil them, rack dry them and wrap them.”
It’s a labor-intensive process, and because of that, the Mahons stopped offering the dish on their daily menu.
However, because their handmade pierogies are high in demand and often not available, Pierogi Week gets all the busier.
“Every night during the week, the place is packed,” Mahon said. “We don’t take reservations. The kitchen opens at 4 p.m. and shuts at 11 p.m., and that’s it.”
During Pierogi Week, patrons will be able to take advantage of a $10 special featuring a heaping serving of pierogies, potatoes and a pint of Philadelphia Brewing beer.
And there will be a new creation: pierogi hoagies. Mahon said these new mammoth sandwiches will be an intense combination of foods: pierogies, kielbasa, kraut, potatoes and more.
The sandwich will weigh in at a few pounds.
Some tavern patrons already are anticipating Pierogi Week. One, who identified himself as Ash, had only good things to say about the pierogies and the tavern.
“It’s a celebration of the good people, good food and good booze offered at Green Rock. It’s a great way to meet new people. I love Pierogi Week,” said Ash.
But Pierogi Week isn’t the only time to taste these perfect pillows of potato from Port Richmond. Throughout the other 51 weeks of the year, riverwards residents can get their fill at a plethora of pierogi-packed establishments.
Some favorites of the locals include Donna’s Bar at 2732 E. Allegheny Ave.; Czerw’s Kielbasy at 3370 Tilton St.; New Wave Café at 2620 E. Allegheny Ave.; and Hinge Café and Art House, at 2652 E. Somerset St., which even offers a pierogi of the day.
With Port Richmond being somewhat of a pierogi mecca, there’s a place offering them in almost every corner of the neighborhood, every day of the week. ••
Pierogi Week will be held at the Green Rock Tavern, 2546 E. Lehigh Ave., from Feb. 26 through March 4. There will be 12 varieties of pierogies and local brews from the Philadelphia Brewing Company. Call 215-203-0840 for more information.