Dining Out: Warmth from the north

Cozy and warm, Nordic Delicacies – a tradition in Bay Ridge for 28 years – is the go-to spot for old-fashioned Norwegian comfort food for good reason.

Nestled on Third Avenue, the delicatessen offers a range of home-cooked and home-baked foods that make the old country come to life – for Norwegians and other Scandinavians still living in the area, for those who live far away but still mail-order the delicacies they crave, and for newer generations of Brooklynites who head to Nordic to enjoy the kind of food that grandma used to make.

In fact, many of the deli’s favorites are made according to grandma’s recipes, explained owner Arlene Rutuelo, who said she learned to cook at her mother’s side, putting in a pinch of this and a handful of that as she recreates such traditional Norwegian fare as Salted Lamb (a Christmas mainstay), housemade pork cold cuts, and Fish Mousse (another holiday-time tradition), as well as buttery cookies and old-fashioned Norwegian waffles.

The latter, said Rutuelo, are so popular that people who get their coffee at the trendy coffee place down the block often stop in at Nordic to pick up an order of waffles to enjoy with it.

Then there are the people who come in for the deli’s house-prepared salads. “We’re probably the only deli left that does its own salads,” noted Rutuelo, adding, “Everybody made salads years ago.”

The homemade touch is definite apparent in Nordic’s Potato Salad ($4.50 a pound), which is super-creamy, sweet yet tart, with toothsome chunks of potato that retain their individuality.

It’s equally apparent in Nordic’s Green Split Pea Soup ($3, small; $6, large), a rich, thick soup that’s generously enriched with chunks of carrot and smoky morsels of ham – great as a first course with a light entrée and equally satisfying as a main course.

Cheese-lovers will gravitate toward Nordic’s selection of traditional Norwegian cheeses. I tried the Nokkelost and Norvega (both $17 a pound). The Nokkelost was light and sweet, studded with caraway seeds that provide a delightful contrast. The Norvega was similar to Swiss, nutty and mild. Both were absolutely addictive.

As for the cookies, each type I tried brought visions of sugarplums in its wake. The Sandkaker ($15 per pound) were sweet, with a depth of flavor that comes only from caramelizing the sugars. Shaped like tarts, with little indents, they would be even better (if that were possible) filled with custard or jam.

The Krumkake ($14 a pound) are flaky vanilla-flavored wafer cones that also just begged to be filled. I sampled one filed with blueberries and topped with whipped cream – yum!

The Serenas ($12.50 a pound) are a personal favorite. These buttery, almond-inflected morsels are light and sweet, with a delicate crumb.

Clearly, Nordic’s offerings resonate with those who grew up eating such fare. But, the hearty, flavorful dishes also beckon people of many ethnicities who crave classic comfort food.

“It’s a lot different now [from when Nordic opened],” noted Rutuelo. “Then, there were a lot of Scandinavians, a lot of Norwegians in the area, but it’s changed a lot over the years. As the market changes, we try to adjust. We have a lot of customers who had Norwegian neighbors and they have such warm feelings about them and the foods they remember.”

6909 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Closed Sunday (except the two Sundays before Christmas when the store is open)
Mail order
Cakes by special order

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