Deli Divine Is Here at Last
Chef Ben Poremba’s new restaurant debut has all the fanfare of a Broadway opening night. Foodies and fans have been waiting for months in anticipation. I’ve laid awake nights, wondering when a bowl of Ben’s matzo ball soup might be available to sooth my innards and brighten my day.
A Cool but Classic Vibe
The Jewish deli adds another star to the Poremba galaxy of restaurants. (Elaia, Olio, Nixta, Benevolent King, Bar Moro). Monday, May 1 is D-Day, the official roll out of Deli Divine. But folks have been dropping by all week for a foretaste as staff rehearses for the the grand opening.
Deli Divine is located on the street level of old St. Luke’s Hospital on Delmar. There’s ample parking near the door, which is one of those thing I look for first.
Inside, the playfully painted walls are capped with overhead lighting, that looks like patches of blue clouds. Children’s drawings and photos of folks long gone, give a multigenerational feel to the place. At the entry, a small rotating board spells out robust aphorisms that would inspire those of any age.
A Classic Deli Menu
Perusing the classic menu, I had the feeling of being in a neighborhood deli in New York City. There were far more choices than I could sample during a lunch. I chose some old favorites with a promise to myself that I’d be more adventuresome next time.
I went with the Veggie Reuben, tasted Lucy’s Corned Beef version, and shared a Noodle Kugel. I took home a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup for dinner. All were worthy of a standing ovation.
Ben stopped at our table to remind us to take a look at the store in back of the restaurant. I’d call the space a petite market (as opposed to a supermarket). Sauces, pastas condiments, sweets, nuts, and more are tastefully displayed (pun intended) for viewing and sampling. I succumbed to the so-called black and white cookies. The bulk jars of almonds, variously flavored, also caught my eye.
Deli Terms You Might Find Useful
As I reviewed the menu, I thought that, like me, you might need a review of some deli terminology to help you decide among the many goodies.
- Kugel: Ben has two varieties listed. The noodle version is traditionally by combing noodles with egg, sugar, milk or sour cream, and butter. Potato kugel combines grated potatoes, eggs, onions, and matzo meal or flour.
- Matzo Ball Soup: Includes fluffy, matzo balls in a chicken broth. Perfect for a cold day or when needing some TLC.
- Latkes: Crispy potato pancakes often served with applesauce or sour cream.
- Bagels and Lox: Usually toasted and served with cream cheese and thinly sliced smoked salmon. Onions, capers and tomatoes can be offered, as well. (Ben offers an open-faced bagel with a number of toppings.)
- Feischmecker: cream cheese, and schmaltz herring on bagel
- Reuben Sandwich: Typically made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread.
- Knishes: Pastries filled with mashed potatoes, onions, and sometimes meat. Crispy on the outside; soft on the inside.
- Challah Bread: Soft, fluffy and slightly sweet. Good with soup, as a sandwich or French toast.
- Black and White Cookies: Large round cookies are half chocolate and half vanilla. They’re soft and cake-like with a tinge of lemon flavor in the icing.
- Pickles: Typically sour and crunchy and accompany most meals.
- Herring: Schmaltz is brinded; Matjes is pickled.
- Gehakte leber: Chopped liver
- Gefilte fish: poached mixture of deboned, ground fish, usually served as appetizer