ST. PETERSBURG — Take a quick scroll through German Knodle’s 5-star Yelp reviews and you’ll quickly learn why people love this place so much.
“The schnitzel is heavenly," writes Jimmy M. "The Bratwurst plate is to die for!!”
“Did not expect the best vegan sausage with curry sauce and sauerkraut ever!" says Adam I.
“Very quaint," writes Christopher O. “And a beautiful gift to St. Petersburg.”
These posts — and many more like them — are what landed the Edge District eatery on Yelp’s seventh annual Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list. It was the only Tampa Bay restaurant on the list.
We stopped by recently to learn more about the relatively new spot.
Natasa Pavlovic and Muntaz “Tazo” Musabegovic opened German Knodle in March 2019. They met while working in the New York City food scene four years ago. Both are from Serbia and lived vastly different lives before landing in the restaurant industry: She was an information technology engineer; he was once a colonel and pilot in the Yugoslav Air Force.
The couple relocated to Florida to enjoy the weather and be closer to Musabegovic’s daughter and grandchildren. Musabegovic picked the theme of the restaurant — the cuisine of his German grandparents — to fill a void he saw in St. Petersburg.
“You have a lot of Mexican, Thai, all these kinds of food," he said, "but German food is unique in this area.”
Diners can spot little nods to the couple’s past in the decorations. Inside the former tattoo shop at 951 Central Ave. is a painting of a soaring supersonic plane above the front door. A mural featuring the Seven Wonders of the World references the pair’s travels around the world. The decor has the modern vibe of a European cafe, from the red and white awning that greets customers to the bright blue and white furniture inside.
Though the restaurant also serves panini and salads, Musabegovic said most diners gravitate toward the traditional German items. The most popular dishes include currywurst and two types of schnitzel (jagerschnitzel, topped with mushrooms, and Vienna schnitzel, finished with a splash of fresh lemon juice). There’s also a selection of imported German beer to wash it all down.
For dessert, there’s the knodle, or German dumpling — a ball of potato dough stuffed with Nutella or fruit and boiled before being topped with powdered sugar and chocolate or coconut.
“Think of a crepe batter made into a baseball with sweet stuff inside," writes Yelp user Mark M. in a review. “Take an adventure down the German countryside with flavors that do not come from a jar or a box."
The couple work every day but Monday, when the restaurant is closed. It’s a family project: Pavlovic’s father helps in the kitchen, while her mother helps take care of the couple’s 2-year-old, Max.
German Knodle is already set to expand. The couple will open a second location with a larger menu inside the food hall of a Marriott-managed boutique hotel being built in the Edge District.
For now, the pair are enjoying meeting new customers who are making the pilgrimage after reading the Yelp list. Musabegovic also wants to thank all of the loyal diners who keep coming back and writing reviews.
“The customers are important,” he said. “It’s not about us.”