With a history spanning over three decades, Little Bucharest Bistro has opened with a new face in Chicago’s Old Irving Park area. Originally opened in 1970 and closed in 2004, the new Little Bucharest, which translates to “Little Paris of the East”, blends a touch of Romanian heritage with American contemporary fare in a vibrant and modern atmosphere.
“I wanted to bring the signature high-energy vibe of the old Little Bucharest into a new setting,” says owner Branko Podrumedic. “The bistro will present Romanian flavors in an approachable way to appeal to more of a mainstream audience.”
Chicago Tribune - June 14, 1991
Big Stuff At Little Bucharest
By Barbara Sullivan.
Little Bucharest, a fixture on North Ashland Avenue since the early 1970s, was long known for its absolutely tremendous portions. And not only was the customer served with enough to feed at least two people, the food was good too.
Ownership changed, however, and popularity dropped. Complaints were heard that the Romanian food just didn`t taste quite the same.
Now under new ownership again, the restaurant seems to be making strides toward recapturing the old double-draw of good food served in staggering portions. Appetizers big enough for an entree, entrees that overlap the big plates and huge helpings of rich desserts taste good and certainly will fill you up.
New owner Bronco (!!!) Podrumedic has done some remodeling
that enhances the old-world atmosphere. Stained glass windows show scenes of Dracula and Stephen the Great, dimly lit chandeliers hang from the ceiling and Romanian tapestries are on the walls. An attractive, full-service bar is against one wall, and well-spaced booths and tables provide seating for 82 people.
Two hefty appetizers which complement each other nicely are the mamaliga
($3.50), a mound of cornmeal (with the taste and texture of polenta) topped with feta cheese, and mititei (4.75), veal and beef sausages that are juicy and garlic-packed.
Most entrees are under $10 and are served with a variety of vegetables. Pork loin ($9.95), stuffed with smoked sausage, could have easily fed three hungry people. A baked boneless lamb leg ($9.95) had a disappointingly gamey taste. Both entrees came with breaded cauliflower, green beans, carrots, potato and spaetzele.
The menu is large and includes Romanian specialties such as sauerbraten ($7.95) and goulash ($8.95), plus good old American butt steak-a 14-ounce slab for $10.95.
Be sure to save room for one of the homemade desserts, which are displayed next to the Dracula window. For $2.95, you can get apple strudel or one of the many tortes.