What's the simplest way to explain a zapiekanka to someone who's never seen one? "Polish pizza" gives the jist — melted cheese and various toppings on a bready base — but it's much more homespun. In place of a purpose-made crust you'll find a halved baguette, which might be warmed in nothing fancier than a countertop toaster-oven. This zapiekanka ($4.50) included a mild cheese, perhaps mozzarella, over sauteed mushrooms; once toasted it was dressed with ketchup, scallions, and mayo. A bigger appetite might have fancied it up with ham for an extra 50 cents.
In Poland, according to the shopkeeper, for folks on vacation and eating casually, two of the most popular no-fuss foods are gofry (Belgian waffles) and zapiekanki. Spelled with a final "i" and not an "a", that's the plural, which can also be construed collectively, as in "Let's go out for pizza" or "Let's stop here for zapiekanki." Mind you, show up with a group and you might have to bide your time or slice your zapiekanka in pieces — I'm not sure about the capacity of that toaster-oven.
K Bagel Cafe
142 Nassau Ave. (McGuinness Blvd.-Newell St.), Greenpoint, Brooklyn