Hungary is one of the countries I would most like to visit (it’s probably my top pick for Europe). So you know me, when a trip to said country isn’t in the immediate cards, the next best thing is undoubtedly feasting on its food. Therefore, I was stoked when I learned that a Hungarian restaurant was opening up in Pittsburgh’s Deutschtown neighborhood.
Unlike many new restaurants, Huszar has a unique and even fascinating story. Huszar’s owner and founder, Judy Torma, is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants. Her parents and two older brothers fled Hungary in 1956, the year the Soviet Union brutally repressed the Hungarian Revolution. They ended up settling in Pittsburgh where Torma’s dad was a tavern owner in the same neighborhood as Huszar and her mom got work at a catering company. So Huszar is a tribute and legacy to both her parents and also her cultural heritage.
Save for goulash, I didn’t know much about Hungarian food so when we went there on a cold day this past winter, I was ready and willing to try just about everything. And our ordering reflected this…heavily.
When you step into Huszar, don’t let the interior decor mislead you. Yes, it may look like as if you’ve stepped into a 1980s dive bar but incredible food awaits. D was slightly disappointed to learn there were no Hungarian beers to try, but ended up being most pleased with his Croatian beer, Karlovačko.
As we both had our eyes on different appetizers, we ended up trying two different items. D opted for the traditional (and most famous) Gulyás ($9.50), Hungarian Goulash beef stew with potatoes, tomatoes, and traditional seasonings. It was very tasty but not as spicy as I thought it would be (Hungarian cuisine often has the reputation of being spicy).
I selected the Hortobágyi Húsos Palacsinta (try that pronunciation on for size) which is a crepe filled with shredded sautéed chicken and topped with Paprikás sauce Hortobágy Style (Hortobágy is an area in eastern Hungary). This was $8 and possibly my favorite out of everything we tried. I love crepes in just about every variety but this taste was exquisite, and the chicken so tender.
For my entree I ordered the Chicken Paprikás ($10.95), a dish I made myself last year. The stewed chicken is topped with a sour cream paprika sauce over nokedli (dumplings). No surprise, it was delicious.
D slightly surprised me by ordering the Bakonyi Steak ($13.95) as he’s not the biggest fan of pork dishes (outside of the sausage/hot dog variety), but this pork cutlet came with a mushroom gravy sauce served over nokedli. As is the case 95% of the time, he finished his (i.e. nothing to take home).
My one disappointment of the meal was that I had my heart set on ordering the Krémes, the Hungarian version of a Napoleon with Lady Lock dough but there were none. So to go we selected the Gundel Palacsinta ($6.00) which is a famous Hungarian-style crepe filled with apricot jam, ground walnuts, a hint of rum, and served with homemade chocolate sauce.
Dining at Huszar was a real treat and it’s wonderful to patronize an establishment that serves as such a beautiful memory to proprietor Torma’s parents. Immigrants built this country and continue to shape it each and every day.
And if you’re wondering about the meaning of the name Huszar, (or Hussar as it is also spelled) it denoted any one of several types of light cavalry used during the 18th and 19th centuries, beginning in Central Europe. Torma’s grandfather was a proud Huszar.
627 E North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212