Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Closed Sundays.
Atmosphere: Friendly; supervised by concerned owners.
Reservations: Necessary for office parties.
Price Range: From $1.25 for a kosher hot dog to $6.95 for a strip steak dinner. Carryout and party platters available.
Credit Cards: None accepted.
Special Facilities: Accessible for wheelchairs but the restrooms are downstairs. High chairs and booster seats available.
It's hard for a Chicagoan to survive in a city which has as few delis as Washington. After all, the streets of Chicago are lined with corned beef shops and red hot stands.
Located next door to a bookstore on Capitol Hill is Washington's answer to Chicago. The Delly of Capitol Hill is a carryout for many of its neighbors but it also has two pleasant dining rooms -- the Senate and the Caucus. Pictures, posters and memorabilia the walls. A small salad bar is tucked in one corner next to a sign: "Matzo balls 25 cents."
A wide range of foods are available. A real delicatessen knows there are people happy to eat bagels and lox for dinner or chopped liver for breakfast. Delis do that to you -- they invite wild samplings and unlimited combinations. dThis one issues the supreme challenge: "Larry's Feast -- you name it, we'll make it."
For the uninitiated, there are plain cheese sandwiches, eggs and omelets, cold dairy platters and the usual delicatessen choices of sandwiches.
Our tastes leaned toward sandwiches, but the child's brisket of beef entree ($4.75) at the next table looked enticing for another evening. Chicken noodle was the soup of the day, but our family came for matzo ball soup. Thus the sign, for matzo balls are always available to supplement another soup.
Our daughter was quite pleased with her toasted bagel and ample slices of non-salty and non-fishy smelling lox (smoked salmon). They were served with a large cream cheese wedge, pickles and chips for $2.95.
The kosher hot dog wrapped in bologna ($1.75) is really two sandwiches in one bun; the hot dog is almost lost in two full slices of bologna.
The combination sandwiches on dinner rolls ($2.95) enable you to sample twice as many deli treats. We succumbed to the Gemini Twins: one hot corned beef and one hot pastrami each on fresh rolls.Both were just right -- steamed warm, an ample amount but not Chicago-heaping.
Toby's Treat, another combination sandwich -- roast beef and chopped liver -- sounded perfect but I assumed the roast slices would be thick, uneven pieces of warm brisket rather than ordinary, grocery-style thin roast beef.
The chopped calve's liver, with egg, onion and chicken fat, was mixed just right.
We all managed to remember the dessert case and decided two concoctions would be enough to share. The waitress willingly supplied extra plates and silverware.
We tried a pie and a cake -- ignoring such ordinary creations as cheesecake, napoleons, eclairs and brownies. Instead, we chose mandarin orange cake and chocolate chip mousse pie. Desserts are expensive -- our two were $1.75 and $1.25 -- but the portions are large and the taste so rich that four people could share one dessert.
The cake in the mandarin combination was dry, stale and disappointing. But the pie was overwhelming with its light and dark chocolate layers, chocolate chips and real whipped mousse flavor; it would be calorically detrimental to learn the bakery from which this concoction came!
The Delly is a fine place for those in search of displaced delicatessen memories or those looking for a pleasant spot to linger over salami and eggs. It is popular and often crowded, for the variety and combinations are worthy of many return visits.
The basic attitude here is to please: If you like your eggs with pastrami, thats fine; or your sandwich with liverwurst, it's available. The choices are yours. The staff is prepared for your creations as you try to concoct a delicatessen dream in the middle of Capitol Hill.