Fanned out on a platter are swirled bouquets of salo (cured fatback), in three varieties: Belarusian, plush and quick to liquid on the tongue; smoked, its flavor shading toward aged Cheddar; and Hungarian, aflutter with paprika. Stalks of green onion, cherry tomatoes and a broken-down head of garlic crowd around, with splendidly fuming potatoes in a skillet alongside. (A more modest, singular helping of salo is accompanied by batons of rye bread as fat as French fries, crisped in butter, rubbed with garlic and tumbled into a cone of newspaper.)
In borscht, the sweetness of the beets is kept in check by salty nubs of pork and beef. Yellow split pea soup, soothing and mild, lands on the table with a pork rib jutting out, the hilt thoughtfully wrapped in foil and the meat smoke incarnate.
The main courses bring more pork. For machanka, hunks of rib, shoulder and a peasant-style sausage made in-house are left to commune in a pot for hours and presented with draniki or kerchiefs of blini, the better to soak up the stew. Neat bundles of cabbage divulge pork, beef and carrots, gently sweet. A monumental pork knuckle is braised and then baked until the fat wobbles off its flanks, calling to mind a slow avalanche.
The first Belarussian Xata opened in 2012 in the Basmanny District of Moscow, a few blocks from the Belarusian Embassy. Its Brooklyn outpost followed this past September, taking over a two-story building once home to Cafe Glechik, a Ukrainian spot. Marat Novikov, a businessman from Minsk who brought his family to Brooklyn in 1989, as the Soviet Union was reeling from internal unrest, runs both restaurants with the help of his son, Andrey; his daughter, Olga; and her husband, Steve Palanker, a native of Moldova.
A few recipes come from Mr. Novikov’s mother, like a perfect dessert of little orbs of tangy yogurt cheese, flecked with poppy seeds and simmered in sour cream. Room, too, should be made for sour cherry dumplings in crimson-stained skins and a trompe-l’oeil chocolate salami conjured out of crushed biscuits, cocoa, hazelnuts and prunes.
This is plenty, to be embraced and shared. A night at Belarussian Xata can feel as though you’ve crashed a dozen parties at once, all in full swing. One night, a group of women lingered for hours in a corner, deep in talk and growly laughter; only around 10 p.m. did their first zakuski arrive. They were in no hurry. They knew the value of time.
1655 Sheepshead Bay Road
Recommended Dishes Salo platter; herring “village style”; borscht; pea soup with smoked rib; draniki with sour cream; kolduni with mushrooms; machanka; stuffed cabbage; mini cheese balls; chocolate rulyada; sour cherry dumplings.
Price $ $ (moderate)
Open Daily for lunch and dinner.
Wheelchair Access The first-floor dining room is on the same level as the sidewalk; the second-floor dining room is accessible via elevator. Restrooms are equipped with a handrail.
NYT > Food