Vernona Gourmet: Authentic Hungarian Food in Bradenton’s Riverwalk East District

Vernona Gourmet is not new to the Sarasota-Bradenton area, it was formerly located at St. Armands Circle and recently moved to the space formerly occupied by Theresa’s Restaurant on Manatee Avenue East.

From the moment you enter Verona Gourmet, you feel the hospitality of its owner Nikoletta and her staff. The space features a refurbished interior and an outdoor patio, giving you plenty of options for small and large parties. The walls are decorated with scenes from various Hungarian cities as well as a collection of works by local artists. 

Vernona Gourmet takes on a challenge not seen in many establishments today by serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nikoletta explains that there are two teams in the kitchen that make this possible. The early shift works breakfast and lunch while the second shift prepares and executes dinner service. I’ve been there for all three meals (on different days of course) and find the transition is seamless. I really don’t have a favorite time to dine at Vernona Gourmet. In fact, I have a list of favorite items from each of Verona’s menus.

Bundas Kenyer Breakfast Sandwich

I’ve enjoyed a few breakfast dishes so far. My first order was the Bundas Kenyer Sandwich, which loosely translates to “coated bread.” It is egg-dipped bread stuffed with ham and provolone cheese. It’s not a Monte Cristo sandwich, even if it sounds like one. The difference being that this is a savory dish and it’s not served with syrup or powdered sugar.

Another breakfast dish that fits the sweeter category is the Fresh Berries Crepes topped with vanilla yogurt. I modified this slightly and added a poached egg on top. I consider it a delicious match. These were my first selections because I tend to gravitate to dishes where the restaurant’s specialty is highlighted – but don’t let my choices deter you from more traditional breakfast.

Avocado Toast

Some of the more traditional choices they offer include Avocado Toast topped with their secret seasonings and baby tomatoes (you can also add eggs to the toast); Lox and Bagel with all the fixings; Buttermilk Pancakes (gluten Free option available) which you can top with blueberry, strawberry, banana, granola, or chocolate chip.

If you’re really hungry, consider the Vernona Breakfast, which consists of two eggs any style, home fries or grits, and a choice of muffin or toast. You can also add bacon, sausage, ham, turkey sausage, fruit, or sliced tomato. The Omelettes or Steak & Eggs are also great choices.

Lunch opens a whole new world of possibilities. For example, they serve Halászlé which is a Hungarian fisherman’s soup; Seared Tuna Salad, or even a Vernona Burger which is a double patty smash burger with your choice of cheese.

Palacsintawhich (Mushroom Crepe)

Other options include the Fish Sandwich, Chicken Panini, Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich or Tuna Melt. It’s also worth mentioning that a great portion of the dinner menu is also available at lunch.

Let’s get to dinner and their specialty cuisine. On our first dinner visit, we started with Bakonyi Palacsintawhich which is a Hungarian-style crepe filled with mushroom ragu. This dish is incredibly flavorful and makes you want to grab a spoon and go for the mushroom sauce, which we did.

For entrées, we ordered a Hungarian specialty and a Swiss one. First, Karpati Borzacska is traditional Hungarian fried chicken covered with shredded potato, fried crispy, and served with seasoned sour cream and shredded cheese.

Karpati Borzacska

The other one was Cordon Bleu which is served as a chicken cutlet, stuffed with cheese and ham fried and served with mashed potatoes. Both of the dishes were outstanding. They gave you that home-cooked feel and left you with plenty of leftovers the next day.

There are many other Hungarian dishes that I still want to try, including the Homemade Chicken Paprikás which is the traditional Hungarian style chicken ragu served with pasta; Meatloaf Hadik Style described as a Hungarian spiced meatloaf topped with mushroom gravy and a sunny side up egg, served with parmesan mashed potatoes; and Konfitált Kacsa, a confit duck with Hungarian spices. 

Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie

Desserts are also a strong component of the restaurant’s menu. Somloi is the ultimate treat, it’s a Hungarian-style sponge cake with walnut chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Second to that is the Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Next on my list are the Tiramisu and the Panna Cotta. I’ll keep reporting on those.

A Hungarian restaurant wasn’t always in the cards for Nikoletta. She learned how to cook in a high school class, the equivalent of our “home economics” class, and that motivated her to spend summer vacations working at a few hotels in Italy and Greece. She started as a busser and finished running a banquet facility before completing her college education.

She arrived in the U.S. 23 years ago and had several businesses before Vernona Gourmet, but this successful restaurant is now her pride and labor of love. We all enjoy what she does and are grateful for her dedication to bringing us authentic Hungarian food.  

Nikoletta is already planning some neighborhood events to bring the community together. The first such event will take place every Monday night with an Open Mic Jazz Night hosted by Robbie Rose. Robbie Rose is a well-known pianist and musician who began composing original tunes at age 13, attended the legendary music and art Community High in Ann Arbor, MI, and honed his jazz skills working with the great Detroit players of the 1970s. He composed many commercial jingles and TV themes, including the theme for “Zoo Life Magazine”. Today he resides in Sarasota and will be hosting this event.

Vernona Gourmet is located in the new “Riverwalk East District” 

711 Manatee Ave East
Bradenton, FL 34208

Hours are:
Sunday – Wednesday 7:30 am – 9:00 pm 
Closed Thursdays
Friday – Saturday 7:30 am – 9:00 pm

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