Delis and their food have fallen dramatically in number and quality over the past few decades, especially in DC. But before you go stockpiling corned beef and pastrami there is good news on the horizon!
Chef Barry Koslow (formerly of Tallula and Mendocino Grille) is partnering with David and Nick Wiseman (Roadside Food Projects) to open DGS Delicatessen at 1317 Connecticut Avenue NW in summer 2012. Joan Nathan, the doyenne of Jewish cooking in America, has been an unofficial adviser on the project, and the trio’s friends and family have been inundating them with cookbooks and family recipes.
The DGS name is a nod to the mom-and-pop Jewish grocery stores — District Grocery Stores — that banded together into a cooperative in the early 1900’s in DC. Nick and David Wiseman are 4th generation Washingtonians and have long yearned to bring an authentic delicatessen to the city; David Wiseman’s grandparents owned one of the original District Grocery Stores.
According to Nick Wiseman, they hope to evoke the feeling of a classic deli like Katz’s, but avoid the inherent kitschiness with an interior he describes as “Brooklyn industrial.” (Mile End Deli in Brooklyn is one of their inspirations.) DGS will have 80 seats plus a patio and a take-out counter. As for decor, the high-ceilinged space will have a lot of exposed brick walls and reclaimed wood. Nick calls it modern Brooklyn industrial meets Old World Eastern Europe.
DGS Delicatessen’s signature sandwich will be, of course, pastrami. The meat will be prepared in a wet brine for five days, rubbed with coriander and black pepper, smoked and steamed. You’ll be able to get your half and full sours, or one of the other seasonal pickles that will be made in-house.
Breads (and bagels and bialys) won’t be baked in-house, but provided by Mark Furstenburg, founder of Marvelous Market and the Breadline and the city’s foremost bread baker. They’ve got fans of a good bagel with a schmear and lox covered too! Koslow and the Wisemans have brunch service in their sights. Koslow said there will be “lots of smoking” for their selection of smoked fish that will include sturgeon, salmon, sable and whitefish.
Koslow will also be integrating other Jewish-American classics in to the menu such as matzo ball soup, blintzes and bialys. As for keeping Kosher? They won’t be serving anything containing pork or shellfish, but they will mix meat and dairy so you can get a reuben done right with cheese.
I don’t know about you but I could really go for a pastrami on rye and a Cel-Ray right about now…
Peace, Love and Delis