With a name that belies its ethnic roots, Ceasar's Deli, a Polish shop, sits back deep enough on Damen that neighborhood transplants careening north to six corners might pedal right past. But those with eyes as discerning as their appetites will catch a glimpse of its weekly specials, like cold buttermilk beet soup, carefully taped to the shop's large glass-panel walls.
The family-run spot only offers items to-go, though the interior, with its yellow and cornflower-blue walls and glossy hardwood floors, might make you want to linger. The staff exudes the kind of assuredness and professionalism that comes with a 30-year stake hold and gracious media recognition. Co-owner Dorothy Corrollo keeps several framed articles stacked unceremoniously behind a desk. If you express an interest, though, she might reveal a clip from one locally famed columnist, touting Caesar's as "the Rolls-Royce of pierogies."
Though Caesar's also serves bakery goods and rye bread, the pierogies are inarguably the luxury item here. Corrollo and fam craft limited-edition flavors with the seasonal produce they gather on weekend trips to nearby farms. So don't be surprised to find that Monday morning's special is chock full of strawberries freshly picked from a fruit farm in Michigan. Yet, with more than 12 flavors, including kraut with mushroom, peach, cabbage and blueberry, Caesar's keeps perennial faves on hand to tide over patrons between runs.
Those familiar with Ukrainian Village will know to expect an even mix of older, Eastern Europeans and a younger crowd who channel the immigrants' native Bohemia. Though hours can be a little inconvenient for 9-5ers, latecomers can call beforehand (866-PIEROGI should be easy enough to remember) and someone will likely stick around. They're pretty good at that.
Centerstage Reviewer: Libby Ramer