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Aug 30, 2001 12:45 AM

roast duck, dumplings, and sauerkraut.

  • r

For many years my wife and I made an approximately monthly pilgrimage from the wilds of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey to the Vasata, a wonderful Czech restaurant in Manhattan on 75th Street off First Avenue. We always ordered what was for us the absolutely perfect meal: liver dumpling soup, roast duck with dumplings and sauerkraut, and apricot palacinky.
And then, one terrible evening as we rounded the corner of 75th Street and First, we saw that the Vasata was gone! Replaced by something called the Cafe Chopin, in our desperation we tried this upstart. It was lousy. Six months or so later it was gone, replaced by an Indian restaurant. We still drive by in the hope that this latest replacement has gone broke and that the original owners of the Vasata will be forced to come back and reopen.
Query: is there any restaurant in the greater metropolitan area that can even remotely replace this great restaurant, and more specifically, this magical meal?

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  1. I recall having the identical meal to yours at Vasata. Sometimes I would get the boiled beef w/ dill sauce. This was sliced so delicately thin, and was so tender, I remember savoring every bite. The beef was also served with Vasata's excellent dumplings, which were dense, chewy, and sponge-like. I, too, mourn the loss. Sorry, I have no other Czech recommendation for you, but I find that Mocha (though Hungarian), also on the upper East side, usually satisfies my cravings for Central European food.

    1. b
      Brian Wickham

      I share your pain. Vasata is long gone and now two Hungarian places are defunct: Mocha and The Red Tulip. You could try Zlata Praha in Astoria, Queens. They are at 28-48 31 Street (718-721-6422) near the Astoria El stop at 30 Ave. Right now this seems to be the only place that anyone recommends for Czech food. Frankly, we tried it a couple of years ago and were not really impressed.

      1. I used to work at Vasata Restaurant back in 1980. Old Mr.Vasata - already in his late 80's - was still overseeing operations of the restaurant, even though the place was run by his daughter Linda and her husband Slavek. Vasata Restaurant was one of the last Czech restaurants in NYC with genuine Czech cuisine. Even the more visited and more talked-about competitors like Ruc Restarurant or Praha Restaurant could not compare with Vasata in quality of their food. Old Mr.Vasata was offered lots of money for his 5 story building where Vasata Restaurant was located - but was resisting the pressure of NYC developers. It is sad to learn it is is gone - but good memories remain !

        3 Replies
        1. re: MacHead

          I remember that place well, and appreciate the inside information--all of Yorkville in the 1970's through the 1980's is now a memory -- Cafe Geiger, Kleine Konditerai, Bremen House, so many others...Nice to know Yorkville Packing is still on 2nd Ave and 81 Street...

          1. re: penthouse pup

            Yorkville Packing House had a devastating fire and never returned. The Hungarian Goulash mural remains on the East 81st Street side wall, but it's a Chirping Chicken now.

            Schaller & Weber and the Heidelberg on 85th & 2nd...Andre's Hungarian Bakery...across the street...that's all folks.

          2. re: MacHead

            I worked for the Vasatas in the 60's at their lodge in the the Catskills. The food, the management and the clientelle were the most extraordinary I've ever known in all these years.

          3. I lived above Vasata with a few roommates in the late 50's. Never ate there, unbelievably; it was too expensive for beginning nurses. But I recall all the wonderful smells emanating from below. And our landlord was wonderful!

            1. Very straightforward roast duck and roasted potatoes (they serve sauekraut too) at Karczma. It's a special on Sundays.