*Photo via Internet of Sokolowski's University Inn.
I've eaten at Sokolowski's a few times and could probably eat there a lot more. It's your perfect old world cooking that is made like mamma or grandma made. There's no fancy decor, just Cleveland Pride and pics of visitors famous and not, but it's awesome Polish comfort food in big portions and flavor. I'm actually making myself hungry for more now at about 2am. I wish!
Sokolowski's is a hidden gem, in the old backstreets of Cleveland, right on the edge of the Artsy area of Tremont which in itself is a gem of food and arts. It's the old city parts, transforming into more upscale apartments and homes with high class restaurants. Nothing has really changed though about Sokolowski's and that's a great thing! We don't want it to change! It's perfect just the way it is.
Going on what Sokolowski's is mostly about and it's family, family that is proud of it's legacy and food. I honestly didn't know it existed, I've been living in Cleveland most of my life. I learned about it late one night while watching The Food Network or Travel Channel, not sure. Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations visited this Sokolowski's with Cleveland writer's. Suggested for some of the best food. Although Anthony tends to eat the more crazy foods like head cheese (pig's brain) that were being served at Sokolowski's but also eating their other specialties and I saw stuffed cabbage, pierogis and potato pancakes, I was drooling! I had to go there!
I planned it and said we're going. When we finally decided to go, we got there pretty easy off the highway about 10 minutes and then through Tremont, basically to the edge. Can't go any further because over the guardrail is a far drop into industrial factories off the drop of a bridge on your left as well, looking straight onto Downtown Cleveland's landscape.
When you first go through you're like what do I do? You walk by the bar and to what looks like a cafeteria line in school. Huh? Yeah weird but then you're like whatever! You grab your dessert first, Oh my gosh, it's all good! Coconut Cream Cake being my favorite! You can choose pies and cakes, then you move onto beverage choosing, beer, soda, imported and domestic sodas, etc.... You slide your tray down and they ask you what you want....This is the hard part because you want it all! As I lick my lips I'm stuttering because I can't choose! I want Pork Chops, no wait Stuffed Cabbage, no wait, Chicken Paprikash, no wait, I want Meatloaf, damn it!! Okay 1 of everything! lol. Seriously though, I've had a dinner which is a main dish and 2 sides you also get the salad bar. I've had Chicken Paprikash with dumplings, Stuffed Cabbage and Meatloaf added as my sides were usually carbs galore like Mashed Potatoes, Potato Pancakes and of course Pierogis! Yes they have veggies but this is not a moment I care to eat any veggie medley or fresh crisp green beans! No, I'm looking to not move after I eat after Sokolowski's.
Oh my gosh, It has to by far be the best Meatloaf I've ever eaten, what a great beefy hunk of meat with a charred sweet ketchup glaze. Yum! Fresh made pierogis, so good slathered in onions with a side of sour cream, mashed potatoes with yummy gravy. That was my latest meal. The Stuffed Cabbage, enormous and made the real authentic way! Potato Pancakes perfectly done and flavorful with how I like them with sour cream on top. (I didn't say I eat healthy when I go, lol). The breaded pork chops are hands down the best, shhhh, don't tell my mom, she makes awesome pork chops too! Sausages are good and they have alot to choose from. You don't go home hungry and you seriously want to take some ala carte home and we usually do! I like leftover meatloaf made into sandwiches the next day, yummy! My kids love Sokolowski's, and my daughter who's not a big meat eater is in Heaven because they have sausage and a salad bar! My Johnny will pretty much eat anything! He of course loves Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and any type of noodle or dumpling. So he ate Chicken Paprikash and Dumplings with a side of Mashed Potatoes. He was set! Scott and I usually end up with the same thing and will split an ala carte item, but I usually don't get that far.
Now that food is out of the way, let's talk about Atmosphere....Well, it's old world, wood interior, Family and Patron memorabilia, Polish scenery and it's dark but nicely lit. I had the privilege to meet Mary, one of the owners. She was so sweet and I met her while we were eating dinner and she complimented me on my purse. She asked us our names and she continued to talk to me and she gave me a beautiful prayer card and asked me what my maiden name was. I told her and she asked me if I knew someone named Gina? Here she knew my Aunt, who lives in Italy. When my grandparents came from Italy, my Aunt Gina was still young and a minor. Mary attended school with my Aunt! I told her how she lives in Italy and she asked me to tell her hello. How weird right? Well, if you know me, you know I can't go anywhere without knowing someone or have some 6 degrees of separation experience! Also she lives in the same city I grew up in and I went to school with some of her family members by marriage! How can you beat coincidence and she knows my Aunt who lives in Italy. My grandparents moved back to Italy taking the younger kids back. My family came after my grandparents came here. We stayed after they left.
Interior, *Photo from the Internet
So I have to say all in all, I love love love Sokolowski's! Love the family, love the customers because they love Sokolowski's too! The employees are great and they help you take your food to your table, so you don't have to. It can get up in price the more you add but really the quality and quantity of the food really is all worth it and perfectly balanced in price. This is home cooked food! No cutting corners. There is so much to do after, like grab some ice cream if you got room or go check out a gallery that's open late or even hit a pub for drinks. I usually want to take a nap after....lol!
If I had a rating scale, I'd give it 5 stars! I wish my camera didn't die, I had to take the photos with my phone. Just please, if you're in the Cleveland area, visit this awesome place! You will not be disappointed! I like to thank the whole family and employees at Sokolowski's for their hard work, service and quality they give to their customers and myself and my family! We love you!
Sokolowski's University Inn
1201 University Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Phone: (216) 771-9236
Facebook: Sokolowski's on Facebook
Offering: Lunch & Dinner, Catering, Parties and Full Bar
Hours: Lunch: Monday - Friday, 11-3
Dinner: Fridays: 5-9
Hours: Lunch: Monday - Friday, 11-3
Dinner: Fridays: 5-9