A narrow storefront on West Lincoln Avenue, just off Rockaway Avenue, contains a deli with a full offering of traditional Polish products, from classics like assorted kielbasa, pierogi and bags of horseradish to less familiar but equally authentic items like pickled mushrooms and Polish cheeses.
Jadwiga Strzepa owns Jadwiga’s Polish-American Deli, which she runs with the help of her daughter Aneta. The Cedarhurst resident immigrated to the U.S. 26 years ago, and has operated the store for almost 10 years. She moved from a previous location on Rockaway Avenue four and a half years ago.
The products that line the shelves and lay in neat rows inside the refrigerated cases are distinctly Polish. Most of the packaged items are labeled in Polish, many with English somewhere on the packaging but often facing the inside of the shelf. Strzepa said that the store attracts customers from a Polish community that is stretched across several local communities, with the closest similar store in Copague.
Her customers aren’t limited to those who share the food’s heritage, of course. The kielbasa and pierogis are the biggest sellers, and along with them, the cold cuts and sandwiches attract plenty of locals. Strzepa gets much of what she sells from wholesalers in the old Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where warm smells beckon from bakeries at night.
The deli’s offerings include certain varieties of that bread, as well as more traditional classics like stuffed cabbage and Bigos, or hunter’s stew, made with meat and cabbage, or desserts like rugelach, angel wings and Polish chocolates.
“Better than American chocolate,” Strzepa said. “I’m telling you.”
A walk down the store’s rear aisle will lead you to a shelving unit full of different kinds of imported pickles. Nearby are imported jellies, sauces, condiments, syrups and beer.
In the refrigerator are packages of blintzes, soups, smoked mackerel and herring.
The store gets especially busy around the Christian holidays, as well as the typical barbecue dates like Memorial Day and July 4. The store could soon offer cigarettes — Strzepa is working on getting the permit — but otherwise, it serves as a full grocery.
At the counter, a case displays babka, Polish donuts filled with plum jelly and other fillings, several varieties of cookie and other desserts. The angel wings are sourced in Brooklyn, Strzepa pointed out. “They also have at Stop & Shop, but ours are better,” she said.