“Stroganoff is probably the most prominent Russian dish Americans are familiar with—think Hamburger Helper or TV dinners,” says Mariia Dolinsky of the modern Eastern European restaurant Tzarevna. And while our childhood memories of those things aren’t exactly, well, bad, we’re all for an upgrade of the cold-weather classic. Elevating and highlighting Russian food is what Mariia and her husband Ricky, the restaurant co-owner and chef, set out to do with the menu. “Executing a perfect stroganoff was a challenge we wanted to accept,” she says.
They started with the beef, upgrading it to a buttery, rich Wagyu flat iron, and instead of stewing it, “we sear it and finish cooking it in the sauce à la minute,” she says. “This ensures perfectly cooked Wagyu that is still enveloped in our beautiful sauce.” Speaking of the creamy mushroom sauce, they kept things traditional with shittakes as the base, adding aromatics including shallots, garlic, and green peppercorns. “It tastes as if stroganoff had a baby with au poivre and carbonara sauces,” says Mariia. Instead of being served over a bed of buttery egg noodles, their version comes with a choice of buckwheat or mashed potatoes whipped with cream and butter and run through a tamis. “Every household eats their stroganoff over a different starch—from mashed to fried potatoes. We wanted to cover a couple of bases, so we chose our two favorites,” says Mariia. The updated version of the comfort-food staple is exactly what we’ll need to get us through winter. “It’s so perfect for the cold weather. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a guest’s face light up when they receive our big bowl of stroganoff!”