Eagerly anticipated Dingfelder’s Delicatessen has begun selling the likes of corned beef, pastrami, half-sour pickles, and potato salad from a walk-up window on Capitol Hill. It’s a culinary milestone for a city finally seeing a revival of Jewish cuisine, from broader Jewish delis to shops, like Westman’s Bagel and Coffee, specializing in bagels.
Owners Vance Dingfelder and Stephanie Hemsworth, a husband and wife who also own Nourish Catering and can now use Dingfelder’s kitchen to run that business, scaled back their opening expectations due to delays. For now, diners will have to grab their goods to go while waiting for the full sit-down restaurant to be built out over the next six to eight months at 1318 E. Pine St.
“We figured we’d open the window because people have been calling us every day, asking, ‘When are you opening?’” Dingfelder said. In hindsight, he’s relieved they decided to start small and work through kinks slowly. “It allows us to move things into place operationally at an easier rate, perfect each thing as we move along. Then the team can work together introducing new items and recipes, perfecting them before we open the deli. If you open the deli you’re opening with 100 items,” with all the extra pressure that entails.
The deli started with a limited menu, featuring corned beef or pastrami sandwiches on rye or marbled rye for $18 or a combination sandwich for $20, plus albacore tuna salad, egg salad, chopped liver, half-sour and sour pickles, pickled tomatoes, and coleslaw. Dingfelder said he can’t believe how popular chopped chicken liver has been: In less than a week, “We went through already 20 pounds, which is a lot of chopped liver if you think about it — it’s chopped liver!”
The deli will add new items each week, “building the menu to include all the favorites,” Dingfelder said. Next up will be soups, like matzoh ball soup; eventually the deli wants to add breakfast and late-night offerings, Hemsworth told CHS Blog.
Customers who’ve seen the lines at neighboring businesses like Westman’s Bagel and Coffee know they need to move quickly to get their fix at Dingfelder’s, which is already slammed despite its low-key opening. “It’s really cool how the Hill has been receptive to us,” Dingfelder said. “I feel like we’re really filling a niche in the Jewish community as well as in the general population. People are happy we’re here and I hope we can fulfill their expectations.”