From soft potato pierogies to beef and pork stuffed cabbage, nobody does comfort food like Taste of Poland JC. Run by Aleksandra Boczkaj — a 14-year downtown resident — this family business has been serving locals authentic Polish food for almost two years. Find out what inspired Aleksandra to start her own business and where she and Taste of Poland JC are heading next.
How long have you lived in Jersey City?
Aleksandra Boczkaj: I’ve lived in downtown Jersey City for the past 14 years. I love it here.
As a long time downtown resident, what do you think of all the changes taking place in downtown? What do you think is still missing?
AB: When I came to Jersey City downtown was a disaster — rats running by the Grove PATH station, no restaurants, no good stores around. The only one was Newport. I like that now we can choose different places to go eat and shop. The only thing we need are more playgrounds for kids. They’re building new skyscrapers and there is nothing around them for our kids. There are more playgrounds for dogs! When I went to Poland two years ago I was very surprised that on every block there were different playgrounds for kids, so much to choose from and in every city — even the small ones — there were public swimming pools very clean, lots of things to do for everyone. I loved it.
What inspired you to create Taste of Poland JC?
AB: I thought that downtown Jersey City needed Polish food, so I decided to sell Polish food at 6th Borough Market (when it was still by City Hall) and I loved it. People were excited about my food! I started by selling just pierogi and Polish sausage and now we’ve grown into so much more. Taste of Poland JC is now two years old.
Have you always loved to cook or was this something you discovered later in your career?
AB: I’ve always loved to cook. I started when I was small. I helped my mom in a kitchen she used to work, so I was making dinners for our family. I really like when people eat my food. It makes me really happy when I see those faces happy and telling me they’ll be back.
For people who may not be familiar with Polish food — what are some of the staples at Taste of Poland?
AB: Polish food is comfort food. So we have, for example, pierogi with sauerkraut, mushrooms, potato, and cheese (cream cheese). I also make pierogi with pork (ground pork). Then we have soups like pea soup with sausage, white or red barszcz, sauer pickles soup, and chicken soup. Every week we have different soups, but during hot days we have soups that are cooling and made with seasonal fruit.
How often do you change your menu and where do you typically get ideas for new dishes?
AB: We always have pierogi with potato and cheese, but I also try to have the pork pierogi every week along with stuffed cabbage and Polish sausage. New menu items I think about over the weekend and I start planning. I have a lot of Polish cook books, so sometimes I look over what they are saying, but most of it I do naturally since I’ve been cooking for such a long time.
In addition to Legal Grounds at 170 Grand, where else can we find Taste of Poland?
AB: We sell our food at 170 Grand Street Wednesdays through Fridays from 5pm to 8pm. We also offer delivery from fastboydelivery.com. You can also find us at Midnight Market; the next one will be on March 17. We’ll be selling new sausages with different sauces. In the summer, you’ll also find us at 6th Borough Market by Exchange Place.
(Photos: Taste of Poland JC)