Review: Cevabdzinica Sarajevo in Astoria/LIC (LONG)
Cevabdzinica Sarajevo ("CS")
37-18 34th Ave.
I just had dinner at CS for the first time. Some quick notes:
-small place and quite busy, so prepare for a possible wait --both for seats and your food
-short menu: cevapi, patties, sausages, veal (liver, kabob, cutlet, kidney, heart), chicken, steak, lamb chops, trout, salmon, pies (spinach, cheese, beef potato), peppers with garlic, steak, salads
-desserts: baklava, tulumba, hurmasica, apple struedle
-prices are about $10 for the entree size dishes, and desserts are all $2 or less
-there are pictures accompanying most of the dishes
-my friend and I ordered the Mixed Meats for Two. It lived up to its name. But I thought the meat was a little bland, with the sausages being the only exception --they were good. The bread that came with the meat was really nice, kind of like a thicker and fluffier naan, but less buttery. Also the red pepper "mash" was really interesting and enjoyable. The chicken was inedibly fatty... I didn't know chickens could have that much fat.
-friendly, non-obstrusive, service
-Overall, I don't think I'll go back there except maybe when showing tourist friends around the nabe. It wasn't delicious and it wasn't cheap... the mixed meat was $18, so we ended up spending about $25 for so-so meat when we could have bought the same (or better) sorta thing from the nearby street vendors for much less.
Rather than start another thread about this place I'll attach this to an old one. I hadn't been to Cevabdzinica Sarajevo in about 6 or 7 years but it hasn't changed. That's a good thing.
A recent trip to check out the renovated Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria brought us into the gravitational pull of Cevabdzinica Sarajevo. Balkan restaurants run the gamut from full service places like Rudar to bare bones cevabdzinica which specialize in grilled meats. As the name implies, this place falls into the latter category.
We ordered too much food. My excuse is that I don’t get to Balkan neighborhoods all that often and so I wanted to make the visit count. In reality I think our old friend Gluttony was along for the ride. We split a pljeskavica (aka Balkan burger) and an order of cevapi, sausage links that are around the length and diameter of a large Serbian man’s index finger. Both are made from a mixture of beef and lamb. You order and then you wait. While it’s fast food it doesn’t have to apologize for itself. All the meats are grilled to order.
Unlike the similar Bosna Express in Ridgewood, Cevabdzinica Sarajevo has a modestly sized seating area. It’s pleasant enough in a clean formica and fluorescent type of way.
About 10 minutes later our food arrived. Big plates of juicy and lightly charred meat, hot off the grill.
We treated the cevapi as an amuse bouche.
Break off a piece of sausage, dip it in the ajvar, the Balkan red pepper sauce, add a few pieces of onion, and open wide. Great stuff. The exterior of the sausage is nicely browned and has just the barest hint of crunchiness. The interior is juicy.
To be sure, the cevapi and the pljeskavica are brothers – they’re both made from a similar blend of beef and lamb. But the different shapes give them somewhat different flavor profiles. I have a hard time figuring out which one I like more. I solve that problem by ordering both.
Say hello to the pljeskavica burger –
It’s dressed with more ajvar and some raw diced onions. Unlike the version at Bosna Express, this isn’t served on a pita analog. Instead the bread, lepinja, is served on the side. Served warm, it’s heftier than a pita and you have the option of easily making a pocket and building your own burger.
While the burger is only about ¾ of an inch thick it’s fully flavored - the lamb and the beef are a great combination. It’s also the size of a small Frisbee – you’re not going to go hungry at this place.
There was a shaker of red pepper flakes on the table and, in one of those cross cultural vortexes, a bottle Trappey’s Red Devil hot sauce. I used them both.
This is the everlasting gob stopper of burgers. You just keep eating and eating. My GF and I split it and it was still a lot of food. Calling it a burger is a bit imprecise – think of it as a burger’s first cousin. The meat is ground more finely than a standard burger. Normally I wouldn’t like that but in this case it works just fine.
I really need to get back here every month or so.
37-18 34th Ave
Aside from being close to the Museum of the Moving Image CS is also a few blocks away from the terrific Muncan Meats butcher shop.
re: Bob Martinez
Interesting. I went to this place many years ago... probably 2004, I think, with a friend. Since we weren't familiar with the food, we figured the Mixed Meats for two would be a good introduction to what the place was all about. One of our concerns was how much food to order for two, and what was good. The "for two" distinction sold us because it was apparently the right amount of food for two people. We had a similar experience the OP had back in 2005. Honestly, we both thought it was pretty bad. I do remember we enjoyed the cevapi, but much of the rest of it unfortunately went in the trash. I suppose if I ever have occasion to be in the neighborhood I may give it another try--this time focusing on the cevapi, sasuages, etc.
I've done a fair amount of traveling in the former Yugoslavia, including Sarajevo, and always thought this place was very, very good. I think likely the most authentically Bosnian place in New York. That said, I've only had the Cevapcici. But then, the little guys made up 90 percent of my meals in Bosnia.
sorry you didn't have a great experience, but i think you should give it another try, and concentrate on the cevapi -- the dish that gives the place its name. incredibly tasty, and a small order fills you up for well under ten bucks (i think it was five or six last time i went there).