Bulgaria in Bowling Green

. November 30, 2019.
View of the main dining area and bar at Naslada. The bar serves only imported European wine.

Naslada Bistro captures the spirit of European dining

Dining at Naslada Bistro is like taking a trip to Europe, in a culinary sense. In some cases, such hyperbole would be just canny marketing, but in the case of Naslada, that experience is their central goal. Naslada owner and Chef Boyko “Boby” Mitov wants every customer to sample authentic European cuisine, and to garner a sense of what food is like outside the United States.

Missing Europe

When Mitov first came to America from Bulgaria in 1999, he quickly noticed that the food here tasted nothing like the cuisine back in his native land.

“It’s not flavorful, everything is processing, everything is for convenience but not for nutritious value. I believe you eat the food because you need nutrients for your body to lead whatever lifestyle you want to lead,” Mitov said in his heavily-accented English.

Organic and clean

“After a few years of eating food here, I just said, ‘I cannot do it anymore.’ And that’s why I opened Naslada as farm-to-table, organic, clean. I felt great [eating that way], and I wanted to give that opportunity to my customers.”

Naslada Bistro opened in 2003, originally occupying a space in Woodland Mall. The Bistro soon relocated to its current space on Bowling Green’s Main Street in 2006. “I just transformed the whole place into food [that you can get when] you’re in Europe. So you don’t need to travel to Europe, you can just [come] to BG. The food is very authentic,” Mitov explains.

Right at home

Naslada can be somewhat challenging to find for a first-time visitor, its small and subdued entrance competing for attention with more eye-catching storefronts down Main Street. Once inside, you’re made to feel right at home: the atmosphere is warm and friendly, with plenty of touches in the decor to pay tribute to Chef Mitov’s home country. An enthusiastic staff greets diners, shows them to a table and reviews the evening’s specials.

Chef Mitov is hard-pressed to select one item he would consider a “signature dish” from what is a relatively small menu. He puts his heart and soul into making every offering and prides himself on being able to find something for every palate. If you’re a vegetarian, you can try the portabella guyvich. Red meat lovers can try his delicious German-style stroganoff. And if you prefer chicken, there’s the chicken piccata.

Chicken Piccata, made fresh at Naslada.

Chicken Piccata, made fresh at Naslada.

“One lady stopped in a couple weeks ago, and said ‘Wow.’ She ordered chicken piccata, and said, ‘I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve been in Italy, this is the closest chicken piccata I’ve ever eaten outside of Italy.’ So that kind of tells you what kind of food I have.”

Made to order

The chicken piccata was my choice, and at 18 dollars, it was reasonably priced for a quality restaurant like Naslada. The food takes a bit of time to prepare, but that’s understandable— everything on the menu is made to order.

“You cannot come into this restaurant and come out in 40 minutes. I say on the first page of the menu— when you come here, everything is uncooked, so I create the meal when you come. And that takes time. I’m not a fast food place. And people who appreciate that come in here,” Mitov said.

When the piccata arrives, it is the very definition of “worth the wait.” Grilled fresh chicken breasts coated with a delectable lemon sauce, served with organic noodles and capers, as well as a few grilled asparagus spears. Delicious and filling, the portion is generous enough to allow me to take a box home (a true rarity for me).

A good night with friends

Though the food is superb, that’s only part of what makes the Naslada experience so special. The wait for your meal has a secondary benefit— encouraging conversation in a beautiful atmosphere. Naslada is Bulgarian for “a satisfying evening in the company of friends,” and Chef Mitov’s establishment intends to provide everyone who eats there with just that experience. “I believe that when they have a very good night with friends and eat a nice meal, it just tastes different. And they see the difference.”

5-9pm, Monday-Thursday
5-10 pm, Friday & Saturday
182 S. Main St., Bowling Green
419-373-6050 | nasladabistro.com

Mature Concerns

Wheelchair accessibility: Yes.
Specialty diets: Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available.
Clean: Yes, beautifully maintained.
Lighting: Slightly subdued in the main dining area, but still very well illuminated.
Noise level: Just right to encourage conversation.
Children welcome: Yes.
Parking: Metered on the street and in nearby lots, but usually free during business hours.

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