Philadelphia natives and high-school friends Casey Patten and David Mazza saw Washington as the place to settle after college. “I’ve always loved the energy here,” says Mazza. “Philly was a little too close to home, and New York was a little too unachievable for what I wanted to do, which was flip houses.”
Flip houses he did—until he and Patten decided to try replicating a taste of home. While they loved DC’s energy, they found no hoagie to satisfy their longings. So they opened Taylor Gourmet in Northeast DC’s burgeoning Atlas District.
The deli’s sesame-seed rolls are couriered daily from Sarcone’s in Philadelphia. Crusty on the outside, soft within, they have that unmistakable fresh-baked aroma. You taste it immediately with the standout Ninth Street Italian hoagie ($6.90 for a six-inch sub, $8.90 for a foot-long), stuffed with prosciutto, capicola, salami, and aged provolone cheese. You don’t have to be a Philly transplant to appreciate the marriage of the spicy, sweet cured meats and the sharp, creamy cheese.
Also satisfying are the well-seasoned and perfectly fried risotto balls, or arancini, and the fried ravioli—an order of each costs $4.50. Both are pleasantly salty, flecked with dried herbs, crusty, and hiding cheesy centers. And each is enhanced by the house-made marinara sauce that comes with them.
Salads are composed of arugula tossed with pastina—tiny pasta similar to couscous—and are named after Philadelphia parks. The Roosevelt Park salad with mushrooms ($7) is filling enough for a lunch on its own, or you can add grilled chicken ($2). The pan-fried chicken-cutlet sandwiches ($6.70 to $9.50), cooked to order, are good, but sometimes the bread dwarfs the filling.
The H Street neighborhood is being redeveloped, and it can be jarring to enter the spanking-new Taylor with its industrially inspired design and clubby music. But Mazza says the deli has been embraced by old-timers and newcomers. And Taylor delivers to most areas of DC for a $2 surcharge.
It sure beats a road trip to Philly.
This review appeared in the April, 2009 issue of the Washingtonian.