Marta’s is a European-American, one-woman, culinary powerhouse. The owner, Marta Runza, immigrated from the Czech Republic in 1986. She first learned to cook — and to speak English — while working in the kitchen of a now-defunct Cleveland Czech restaurant, before going on to open her own spot in 1995.
As the owner, hostess, server and cook, Runza is the restaurant’s single employee and hand-makes everything on the menu from scratch.
During Lenten season, she calls in her daughter, Lenka, to help manage the front-of-the-house rush as people filter in to sit at the eight available tables and try the fried Alaskan pollock ($9.95) Runza hand-breads using her own recipe — just eggs, flour, breadcrumbs and a few secret seasonings.
“It’s very simple and very tasty,” she says. “A good old-fashioned way to do it.”
Served with creamy coleslaw, a choice of house salad or the soup of the day, and either potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce, french fries or mashed potatoes, each fish dinner offers more than enough to take home.
Although she’s been the captain of this ship for nearly 25 years, she’s quick to note that she still feels more like a home cook than an expert chef.
“I am not a professional, I am a mom,” Runza says. “It’s like I am cooking for kids — but all these customers are my kids.” Available every Friday year-round 4-8:30 p.m.; during Lent, call ahead for parties of six or more. 800 E. 222nd St., Euclid, 216-731-9596, martasrestaurant.com