Eva Sikorski is the type of woman who, if you showed up at her home, would shower you with food until you couldn’t move, and then ask you if you would like dessert.
So it makes sense that when she and her husband, Richard, opened a restaurant to complement their West Bay Drive deli, they would serve authentic meals that recall family dinners where everybody went home stuffed and with smiles on their faces.
It’s that type of home-cooked goodness, coupled with good old-fashioned customer service, that has made a success for the Sikorskis.
“Everybody who comes in here, they feel like they are coming back home,” Eva Sikorski said. “Everything is made from scratch, with a lot of ingredients shipped from Poland. It’s not mass production here. It’s not McDonald’s.”
Indeed, at Baltic Amber, named for the region Poland is located in and the fossilized resin that is found in abundance there, the meals not only have that real, home-cooked flavor associated with old family recipes, but there’s always plenty of food to keep you satisfied.
“We pace ourselves when we come here because it’s one dish after another,” patron Alicja Swiderska said. “You can’t rush yourself.”
The restaurant, which seats 120 inside and has an outdoor patio with 40 seats, also features German, Hungarian and Russian meals. The staff will also make pizza and other typical American dishes by customer request.
“If you don’t see anything you like on our menu or you would like something made differently from how we serve it, let us know and we will take care of it,” Sikorski insists.
Some of the more popular menu items are pirogues, potato pancakes, Wiener schnitzel, Polish sausage and an array of homemade soups, including white borscht and Polish Easter soup, which take more than a week to create. Baltic Amber also offers a robust lunch special menu, with hearty meals and sides for $6.99.
Sikorski said the ingredients that aren’t made fresh in house are imported from Chicago, where the Krakow native lived from when she was 10 years old until the time she moved to Florida 10 years ago.
Eight years after arriving here, she and Richard decided to open a deli because there were only one or two such Polish establishments in the area.
“After we opened the deli on East Bay, people wanted to have the food all the time,” Sikorski said. “It took several months of bugging my husband to agree to it. He was reluctant because you don’t have a life. Owning a restaurant is 24/7.”
Thanks to a loyal and gracious customer base, the Sikorskis have grown to love their new business. They have karaoke on Tuesdays and live music on Saturdays, cater lunch for 70 office workers twice weekly, and even serve breakfast to customers who come in early.
After moving the deli into one of the dining rooms at Baltic Amber nine months ago, they are getting ready to open a new, larger deli at the intersection of Walsingham and Ulmerton roads around New Year’s Day.
But no matter how much time it takes out of her life and how many other interests she has, Sikorski takes comfort in the fact that people will always be able to enjoy a good, home-cooked meal as long as Baltic Amber is around.
“Once people taste our food, they like it," she said. "I’ve never had a complaint yet.
"And you don't have to be Polish to enjoy it."
Address: 552 Clearwater Largo Road
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, 4-10 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday