Polonia has been reviewed by a variety of periodicals. These reviews are listed below in chronological order.
Orlando Home & Leisure Magazine - Silver Spoon Award: Best Ethnic
"Authentic, unpretentious, much like eating in a Polish friend’s home," says a judge. It's all about the potato pancakes, borscht, stuffed cabbage and Reubens on incredible rye. With only about 30 seats, there's often a line for home cooking at its finest, you can sip a cold Polish beer and browse the deli cases while you wait.
EOsun.com - Polonia: A Polish taste of the ‘old country’
June 22nd, 2005
It’s easy to find ethnic tastes around Orlando, and there’s even a handful of really good ethnic restaurants in East Orlando, but most of them work with the familiar styles that have been “mainstreamed” into popular culture: Italian, Greek, Mexican.
Polish food probably does not come trippingly to the lips when thinking of delicious cuisine unless you or your ancestors came from there – but I’m here to tell ya, Polish food is fabulous when it’s made by people who care, and the folks who run Polonia turn even dishes I’d normally shy away from into delightfully edible adventures.
For example, borscht (a soup made with red beets in a steaming broth). Normally something non-Eastern Europeans see outside Thanksgiving, Polonia gives it a sweet. lighter treatment that makes it far more palatable. Likewise, I much prefer the meat-heavy Polish variation of sauerkraut (bigos) to the better-known German version. Even their take on fried blood sausage (called Kizka, $3.50) is tastier than the black puddings I remember well from my trips to England.
Polonia offers a terrific selection for all tastes, from their fabulous perogies (cheese or kraut-filled pasta, $6.75) to their great chicken cutlets fried in garlic butter ($9.75), from the incredibly meaty stuffed cabbage (Golabki, $7.75) to their variety of goulash ($9.25), you get hearty meals lovingly prepared for extremely reasonable prices. A great recommendation is the Big Polish Platter ($9.95), which features mashed potatoes and a generous serving of Kielbasa sausage in addition to the sauerkraut and perogies. We’ve also enjoyed the chicken or pork cutlets ($9.75 and $9.25, respectively) with two sides and the Beef Stroganoff ($14.95) that kicks the crap out of any “box” versions you may have tried on previous visits.
Service is friendly and familial, but the very limited floor space means you may have to wait for a while at the most popular times for seating. You can pass the time by studying the plaques on the wall depicting the rich history (and constantly-changing borders) of Poland. There’s a heavy Chicago influence on the place, in part because the small space makes more than token attempts at atmosphere difficult and because the restaurant relies on famous Chicago Polish delis like Bobak’s for their prepared meats (Polonia offers a deli-like counter where you can take home many of these “imported” favorites, as well as truly imported Polish grocery items like wines and cookies).
Even the desserts are heavy (but never too heavy). Try a blintz filled with sweetened Farmer’s cheese and fruit or a babka (about $3 each). You’ll never leave Polonia less than full, but your wallet will thank you for the treat. Polonia must be Polish for “good value for money.”
Orlando City Beat - POLONIA: A little slice of Warsaw in Winter Park
By Randy Harris
October 24, 2004
Aside from the occasional box of frozen pierogis, I had been missing out on a great deal of Poland's culinary creations. So, it was with great curiosity that I packed up my appetite and headed over to Polonia on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park to immerse myself in the wonders of Polish cuisine.
Those considering a trip should leave their diets at the door, because heavy portions of hearty dishes are the order of the day at Polonia. An ideal spot to share appetizers with a group of friends, the perfect sampler for such an occasion would be the Polski Talerz, a sampler featuring stuffed cabbage, pierogi and kielbasa. The kielbasa (smoked Polish sausage shipped from a famous Polish deli in Chicago) possessed a rich, spicy flavor that packed a satisfying aftertaste.
My choice among the three soups offered was the vegetable kielbasa soup ($3.50), a great starter under any circumstances. Its rich, meaty broth was complimented by the fresh mushrooms, carrots, corn and celery pieces swimming inside. While waiting for your appetizers and entrées to arrive, you can munch on the Polish rye provided at each table, which gave Polonia a little more deli cred. A highly recommended appetizer are the potato pancakes ($4.25), fried to a crispy golden brown and accompanied by homemade applesauce and sour cream. These puck-sized favorites packed a satisfying potato punch and more importantly were not as greasy as I had originally feared.
A great place to dine morning, noon and night, Polonia only serves its heavy-duty sandwiches during lunch hours (which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). There are four to choose from: the Reuben, Jimmy's Polonia All the Way, Smoked Turkey and Polish Hunter's bacon and Kielbasa and Kraut. With its powerful heaping of sauerkraut (because a Reuben is simply not a Reuben without some) and corned beef, The Reuben seems to be the local favorite and for good reason.
What has truly put Polonia on the map in Winter Park are their cheese blintzes ($4.25 for one, $7.50 for two), that rare animal that can pose as an appetizer, entrée or dessert. These warm pockets filled with real farmer's cheese were worth the trip alone and come complete with strawberries, strawberry sauce and sour cream. Personally, I felt the sour cream as a condiment seemed out of place, but that's ultimately your call. As far as official desserts, try a slice of the poppyseed cake, a Polish heirloom with interspersed layers of moist chocolate cake and vanilla frosting filling.
Inconspicuously located in a small plaza next to some nondescript offices, Polonia's dining area is about the size of a dance floor. During my visit, they were dangerously close to maximum capacity. Granted, we're talking about 30 seats in all, but still impressive, nonetheless. Setting up shop in Winter Park in Sept. 2003, Polonia has built a small, but loyal following and it's easy to see why. Their hard working staff is courteous and fast, their food is a real find and they offer a cultural experience with every meal.
Orlando Weekly - Slavic sensation
October 23rd, 2003
Cleveland native Rob Plummer is doing us a favor, in the form of Polonia Polish Restaurant. He's offering us something different.
Sometimes different is the best we can hope for, but Plummer, who previously owned the Petronia restaurant in Key West, manages to bring authentic dishes to the mix. The strip mall location, with two small rows of booths and a packed deli case at the rear, doesn't look much like a slice of Warsaw, but the menu proves otherwise. For those with bored palates, Polonia is a welcome change.
Enter Polonia with the understanding that you'll never hear the word "light" being used to describe Polish food. These are hearty dishes, heavy without lapsing into leaden. Golabki ($6.75) is seasoned beef and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves -- the dense stuffing could probably stand upright on its own -- topped with either tomato or mushroom sauce. Likewise, the liver pâté ($3.95) has a thicker consistency than the French kind and has a pleasant undertone of baked vegetables.
The many prepared meats at Polonia, from kielbasa and kabanosy sausages to corned beef and pastrami, come from Bobak's, the gargantuan deli in Chicago that feeds the Windy City's enormous Polish community, so the tastes and preparation are true to form. Kielbasa, smoky pork and beef sausage infused with garlic, shows up fried with onions and peppers as a lunch entree ($5.95) and sliced into hunter's stew (bigos, $6.95). Not what you might think of as stew, this ancient dish combines sausage, beef and pork in slow-cooked sauerkraut for a piquant meal that supposedly cures all ills.
I'd order the placki potato pancakes -- what a New Yorker would call latkes -- for every meal; thin, crisp and full of flavor, served with applesauce and sour cream. But potato lovers can find other choices. Pierogi ($5.75), cheese and potato-filled pasta pockets, come served with caramelized onions. There are kopytka dumplings available as a side dish, dressed with onions and tasting like very large, very tender gnocchi.
Some Polish dishes need explanation. The authentic recipe for kiszka, aka stuffed derma ($3.50), calls for blood pudding -- check with your server before ordering what is generally a delicious but haggis-type entree. No explanation is needed for savory beef Stroganoff ($14.95) or the tender and moist chicken cutlet called "kotlet y kury" ($6.95).
Desserts and near-desserts are worth a try. Blintzes ($2.95), tender crepes filled with sweetened farmer cheese, covered in strawberry sauce, could both begin and end a great meal, and rotating sweets like home-baked babka.