Los Angeles is losing its old-school delis, most recently Greenblatt’s, but a new generation of Jewish food specialists are updating the concept with high-quality ingredients and time-tested comfort food.
San Francisco’s Wise Sons has opened in Culver City with a menu focusing on the pillars of the cuisine – pastrami and Reuben sandwiches, bagels and lox, chocolate babka, latkes and matzoh ball soup, plus a classic diner tuna melt, salads like smoked turkey and crispy pastrami or smoked trout, and challah French toast.
Evan Bloom and his brother Ari, who co-founded Wise Sons with a college friend, Leo Beckerman, grew up going to the delis of Pico Boulevard, so it was a natural to establish an L.A. outpost for their modern take on the genre. “The times of these giant restaurants with five page menus, it’s hard to accomplish these days. We’re more focused,” Evan Bloom explains. The matzoh ball soup is his favorite dish. “It’s so comforting,” he says, “The matzoh balls are light but has some density at the same time, which is easier said than done.”
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“We’ve been talking about coming down to L.A. for a long time,” says Evan Bloom, who grew up in Ventura and visited L.A. often, eating at I and Joy Bagels, Bea’s Bakery and Ventura Kosher Meats. He said the Culver City location proved ideal since “It’s a growing community, there’s lots of young families, and there’s not currently a Jewish deli in the immediate area.”
He would like to dispel the idea that it takes New York water or some other secret to make good bagels. “They’re making great bagels in L.A., San Francisco, Denver – it’s a new generation. They’re not saying they’re New York style,” says Evan Bloom. Wise Sons keeps it simple with just five ingredients. They’re left in the fridge overnight for the flavor to develop, and then double-coated with seeds “so both sides are equally delicious,” he says.
Where does he stand on modifications like scooped-out bagels? “I’m against that,” he says, but there are still plenty of choices for various preferences and diets, including gluten-free bagels and vegan cream cheese made from sunflower seeds. What about blueberry bagels? Are they a shonda? “No way,” he says to adding berries to bagels, although they recently started offering cinnamon raisin.
A beer and wine license is in the offing, so dinner hours will be coming soon. A large outdoor eating area is available as well as delivery. 9552 Washington Blvd, Culver City
New & notable Bagel + Slice:
Northeast L.A. needs bagels too, so Brad Kent, who co-founded Blaze Pizza and launched Olio Pizza, is opening Bagel + Slice in October on York Avenue near Occidental College. Several September pop-ups will give bagel lovers a chance to taste the goods before the official opening.
“I yearned to open a bagel shop since I was a boy,” Kent says. “I wanted a place to relive the feeling of going to pick up bagels with my dad on Saturday or Sunday mornings.”
To take advantage of both breakfast and lunch crowds and utilize his expertise in using the wood-burning pizza oven, he decided to combine the two doughy favorites. “We didn’t have pizza-by-the-slice places where I grew up but I imagine those places left indelible memories on the kids that grew up around them,” Kent says.
In the morning, try bagels ranging including pepper-rosemary and Za’atar with cream cheese made with Strauss Family Creamery cultured dairy and or smoked butter from grass-fed cows. Lunchtime brings organic-crust pizzas and pepperoni made with regenerative beef. 4751 York Blvd., Highland Park