- Where: 8969 E. Tanque Verde Road, between North Bear Canyon Road and Catalina Highway
- Phone: 360-4040
- Online: kalinarestaurant.com
- Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for brunch on Sundays.
- History: Chef-owner Natasha Kalina opened the 28-seat restaurant on Dec. 5. It is Tucson's first Russian restaurant.
- Type of cuisine: Authentic Russian, from chicken Kiev to St. Petersburg beef stroganoff. Dinner entrees run $16 to $19, lunch tops out at $12.
- Taste from home: The Siberian Pelmeni - lamb-, pork- or beef-filled dumplings served with vinegar and sour cream on the side ($18) - is prepared exactly as you would find it in Russia, Kalina said. The dumplings are handmade by the hundreds, which required groups of mostly women to spend hours and hours at the task. Kalina still makes hers by hand, but uses some tools since she is making them by the thousands.
"The dish is very, very dear to me," she says. "When my sister was getting married (25 years ago) in Russia, we had our whole family come down … and the wedding was at our house. … My four aunts on my father's side came down three days before the wedding and we were all sitting in our little tiny kitchen and making hundreds of dumplings. … It's a great memory."
- Bio: Kalina was born and raised in the Ukraine and moved to Tucson at 19 with the dream of opening her own Russian restaurant. Her first culinary adventure was her Tucson catering company Bite Size Luxuries (bitesizeluxuries.com), which specialized in savory and sweet small bites. Last fall she made the leap to a full-fledged restaurant, leasing a cozy 28-seat space where she and her mother Tatiana prepare authentic Russian dishes from the buns filled with braised cabbage or fried mushrooms (piroshki) to breaded pork loin paired with sweet dried plum rice (Moscovite pork chops).
"My dream has been for 20 years to own my own Russian restaurant. I'm living the dream," said Kalina, 39, whose 10-year-old daughter Anna often helps out in the dining room.