photo by Bradley Hawks
Since 1980, the slim counter that comprises Stage Restaurant has been a gem hidden in plain sight. The neighborhood’s finest pierogi emerge from the closet-size kitchen, fried to a deep golden brown and bloated with potato, meat, cheese, or sauerkraut and mushrooms. Ask to have them served caramelized onions. The entire menu is full of surprises that cost less than $10, and we can’t resist dipping our forks into dinner specials like hand-sliced roast beef over mashed potatoes and gravy and muddy goulash. Invigorating red or white borscht is served in coffee cups, and the griddled burgers achieve an admirable crust. Oh, and Stage makes our favorite egg on a roll in town. The place overflows with heart, which is why it breaks ours to report that Roman Diakun’s charming lunch counter only has five years left on its lease. With the building sold to new owners, the future of this East Village classic is anyone’s guess, although Diakun is confident he’ll stick around. In the name of all that is good, let’s hope he’s right.