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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ DGS Delicatessen / 1317 Connecticut Ave. NW

Zeroing in on Dupont Circle, the dedicated foodie can wallow in almost every imaginable cuisine. And now, foodies have discovered one of the hottest tickets on the local restaurant scene: DGS Delicatessen, which recently opened its doors on Connecticut Ave., just south of the Circle. If you have not yet treated yourself, welcome to DGS Delicatessen, the home of modern Jewish cooking that is almost kosher.

Modern Jewish cooking, you may wonder? Well, yes, says resident executive chef Barry Koslow, he with the sterling cooking credentials. It’s modern, he notes, because we do everything here from scratch, just like in the good, old days in New York, back when delicatessens were mom and pop stores that specialized in certain yummy Jewish/kosher dishes. Then along came modern technology and food processing, and the charm of those 1930s delis got lost in the big-time shuffle.

Koslow is set to turn back the clock, more or less, by introducing once again, from-scratch fare, including even the smoking of his own fish and the making of his own mustard. He has even based his matzoh ball soup on his grandmother’s home recipe, but with one exception: he has swapped out the traditional chicken fat with the more current ingredient of duck fat.

To all this traditional/modern fare, he and the management team have tweaked the menu even further. They have upped the kinds of seasonings to include such favs as North African spices and preserved lemons.

So, you must wonder what makes the food so good. Based on two sandwiches — “The Wally B” and “The Israeli” — it’s easy to see why the general public is happy to see that Barry Koslow (formerly executive chef of a Virginia restaurant) is back in DC.

“The Wally B,” a memorable tongue sandwich is seasoned with mustard and sweetened with pickled apples, was named after one of management’s grandfather. Tongue may not be everyone’s go-to meat, but that’s just because today’s menus and meat departments seldom offer this particular cut of beef. But back in the old days not so many decades ago, tongue was a standard commodity in many family meals.

The second sandwich, “The Israeli,” is served on pumpernickel and is layered with house-made hummus, pickled beets, and feta cheese. Delicious.

They have also included a series of offbeat cocktails such as “The Mensch” with Old Overholt Rye and blood orange and “The Schmoozer” with house-infused plum vodka spiked with ginger beer, mint, and lime. In addition, there are very interesting and varied imported and domestic wines and craft beers; also, egg creams and even my editor’s favorite sparkling celery tonic, Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray.

So appealing is this white-tiled eatery with an out-back patio (or out front, if you are on 18th Street just below Massachussets Avenue) that it accepts reservations — at a delicatessen, no less.

If you plan on a full-course lunch or stop by for dinner, you will be able to indulge in kasha varnishkas with bowtie pasta and buckwheat or Romanian steak with creamy chickpeas and a sunny-side up egg. Desserts include a DC-style cheesecake and Hungarian doughnuts. There’s brunch, too, on weekends. (For the complete menu, check out http://tinyurl.com/bnmr9v4)

DGS Delicatessen / Lunch, Mon.-Fri. 11:30am-2:30pm; Dinner, Mon.-Thu. & Sun.5:30-10pm, Fri. & Sat. to 11pm; Brunch, Sat. & Sun. 11am-2:30pm. Dinner entrées: $8-$20. 1317 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 293-4400; www.dgsdelicatessen.com.

 

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.