After more than a year of work on the small spot, Europa Gourmet Market has finally opened.
The long and narrow space houses an abundant assortment of European packaged goods -- beer, meats, and even sodas -- designed to give European-born residents a taste of home. More interesting than the jars of kraut and bottles of Polish beer, however, is the delicatessen counter, where an ever-changing display of home-cooked East European favorites is offered daily.
The market is co-owned by Alexander Ringleb and Timea Pellegrini. Ringleb, who has years of high-level experience in Miami's restaurant scene, including DeVito, Casa Tua, and the District, decided to open the market with his fiancée, Pellegrini. The couple uses family recipes for most of the dishes, which are hearty and affordable. "I just want to serve delicious food at an honest price," Ringleb says while going over the day's specials.
The co-owner explains that before opening Europa, if the ever-growing community of Russians and Europeans living or visiting South Beach wanted to stock up on favorites from home, they'd have to travel north to Sunny Isles Beach or Hollywood. So he decided to open a small shop featuring favorites from his native Germany and his fiancée's native Hungary.
But what began as a straightforward plan to open a delicatessen and market turned into a project that took more than a year. Ringleb explains he had to do a total renovation of the space, which was a former adult shop. Those changes resulted in many additional months of work without revenue. "That was difficult," he confides. "We're just ordinary people."
But now the little shop is open and turning out delicious, home-cooked meals, with daily specials such as peppers stuffed with ground beef and pork and served in a sweet paprika tomato broth ($8.50). Accompanying the pepper is a piece of toasted bread, perfect for sopping up the extra sauce.
The deli case yields some fantastic finds, including mushrooms in a sour cream and dill sauce and korozott, a spread made with Hungarian farmer cheese and paprika.
Europa also makes sandwiches not generally found in SoBe, such as the Butcher's Favorite ($10.50, head cheese, ham, green peppers, pickles, onions, carrots, and butter); the Balkan ($10.50, Balkan sausage, fresh onions, ajvar relish, and kajmak, a cheese spread); and the Bavaria ($12.50, chicken, veal, or pork schnitzel with tomatoes, onion, pickle, radish, and Dijon mayonnaise).
Head to the back of the store to dine at inviting country tables.
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While you're at it, check out the rather impressive array of European beers, such as the 13 percent ABV Belzebuth blonde ale from France.
Europa is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.