6909 3rd Ave (nr Ovington)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 748-1874
2nd Cuisine: Gourmet Shops
Area: Bay Ridge
I lived in Minnesota for three years – and despite being a native New Yorker, I fell deeply for the midwestern lifestyle. As simple and snowy as it was, I developed a soft spot for a couple of things, one of which is Norwegian cooking (the other is Fargo, in case you're wondering).
So, you can see why my heart practically melted when I found Nordic Delicacies. It's definitely the most curious of shops – an odd-man out amongst its neighboring middle eastern, asian, and mexican establishments. But after learning a bit of history, it makes sense.
Bay Ridge was once known as Little Norway because of a prominent Scandinavian presence. So prominent, that when a Chinese couple wanted to buy the last Norwegian restaurant in the neighborhood, people went bananas, impelling the couple to learn Norse cooking – thus was born the first and only Chinese-Norwegian restaurant in Brooklyn.
That restaurant extinguished along with the rest of Little Norway in the mid 80's, but in 1987 Nordic Delicacies opened, representing a portal into old Little Norway. It has been serving local patrons since - as well as lefse-lovers nationwide via a huge mail-order business.
The shop is quaint, cozy, and detailed in folk scandinavian rosemaling- and the smiling, ruddy-faces of the older ladies who own, run and cook for the shop will make you feel as though you're the sudden adoptee of a Norwegian grandma.
The shelves are lined with Nordic staples like Wasa crackers, cloudberry and lingonberry preserves, canned fishballs and cod liver oil. But follow your nose, and you'll discover the real reason why people all over the world shop here: the homemade dishes. At $8.99/lb, the meatballs (kjottkaker) are the store's claim-to-fame, along with homemade beef patties (karbonader kaker) which you can purchase either with onions or gravy on top. Other top-sellers include fishcakes ($13.50/lb), herring salad ($8.99/lb) – and my favorite: potato dumplings, featuring a potato-oatmeal base stuffed with salted pork ($5/dumpling).
For your sweet tooth, try a “vaffel”, the tangier version of a Belgian waffle sold in sheets of four ($2/sheet). You might also enjoy a slice of their almond cake or a dozen “bollers” which are cardamom-spiced raisin rolls.
There is only one table for dining at Nordic Delicacies, so I wouldn't suggest planning a lunch out with friends there, but it's definitely a top-notch spot to load up on comfort foods to go – and way more convenient than a trip to Minnesota– or Norway, for that matter.
Review By: Janice Bevilacqua