Ola Polish European Delicatessen on Myrtle. — Photos by Scarlett Lindeman

It’s lunchtime. A sweaty five-dollar bill can take you pretty far in this part of town: two carnitas tacos at any local taqueria; a slice and a large coke; an aluminum container of orange rice and beans…

This is where Ola, a Polish European Delicatessen on Myrtle Avenue saves you from monotony. Last week I was thunderstruck by their lunch special, which will sturdy a famished construction worker or an occasionally employed food writer for an entire afternoon, for $3.50.

 
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Slightly out-of-place next to a rotisserie chicken joint and cheap jewelry stores, Ola, right at the gateway to Ridgewood’s bustling Myrtle Avenue strip, is a brief stop in Poland after a road trip through Bushwick’s Latin America. Cherry preserves, jarred beets, and creamed herring keep company with dark bread, chocolate wafers, and imported Eastern European snacks.

You can get tinned sprats and spicy mustard here, or choose from their wide selection of sausages, hams, and headcheeses, some of which they source from Greenpoint. “Some people make this sausage good. Other people make the ham good,” said Derek, the owner, who opened shop two years ago. Though the community harbors fewer Poles than nearby Greenpoint, it is a thriving slice of the neighborhood, of which many come for the lunch special.

The steam counter in back is spread with heavy Polish fare. The menu changes a little every day but the stalwarts — schnitzels and dumplings, pork stew, and stuffed cabbage, are always in company with lumpy mashed potatoes and kasha, a nutty whole grain. You get a meat selection, a starch, and a salad — marinated cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, or red cabbage — and can tack on a slightly bitter Polish Zywiek tall can for $4.75, total.

One day I sliced my way through a mild sausage split and stuffed with sautéed mushrooms and cheese, dotted with ketchup, no doubt a 3rd graders’ favorite. Another day it was cabbage, wrapped around ground pork, rice, and mushrooms with a tart cabbage slaw. Though the female clerks reek of boredom they will spoon gravy over your meal with the tenderness of a geisha pouring tea.

Ola
5533 Myrtle | 718-497-7815
Grocery. Lunch special: $3.50