Combining a deli and steak house may sound unusual, but this Somers Point establishment makes it work.
After owning and operating a successful breakfast/lunch/catering business on Route 9 in Somers Point since 1989, the Fitzpatrick family moved their base of operations a mile or so east earlier this year.
They also shifted formats — more on that later — opting to call their new venture Fitzpatrick’s Deli and Steak House.
Admittedly, it’s a bit of an odd combo, but a recent Friday night meal proved that for the most part, they are making things work well. Walking into the place, patrons get an upscale diner-type feel. Not quite fine dining, but certainly an apropos locale for family meals or Jewish-style delicatessen fare. They’ve even coined a genre-crossing, conceptual term: “deli-dining.”
We began with an app that intersected both of those circles, pastrami-wrapped scallops. It’s a brilliant piece of culinary thought, playing off the traditional Angels on Horseback — bacon wrapped scallops — starter.
A pair of day boat-sized mollusks were nicely, tightly bound by slices of cured brisket and delicately seared. The naturally fatty, salty beef added plenty of oomph to those clean seafood flavors. Scallops were perched atop toast triangles and completed with a Pommery mustard sauce the equal of anything to be found in gourmet restaurants. Our other choice, flatbread piled high with caramelized onions, arrived cut into six irregular shapes.
We actually liked this bit of non-conformity; it demonstrated that the bread was stretched and built to order. The onions themselves were nothing less than grand, sweet, earthy and possessing a bouquet closer to spring flowers than what you might expect from members of the allium family.
House salads, accompanying entrees, proved a pleasant, albeit standard mix of iceberg, cukes, shredded carrot and tomato wedges, ours with above-average balsamic vinaigrette. Observing other tables on this evening, we noticed that about half were there for sandwiches and light fare, while other tables arrived carrying bottles of wine, intent on a BYOB experience.
Our first entrée was from the dinner menu, chicken thigh goulash. Described as being served over egg dumplings, it arrived atop what looked and ate more like twirls of homemade spaetzle. Either way, we weren’t disappointed. Three large, luscious pieces of dark meat chicken were doused in a dark red, mildly piquant sauce.
Perfectly cooked — no small feat with thighs — the meat practically pulled off bones. Spaetzle were tender and light, formed with an herbal mix that undoubtedly included fresh parsley. For our money, this made for a more authentic Eastern European plate anyway.
I chose an evening’s addition, strip steak atop cauliflower mash with celery root noodles. The steak was delivered at medium and a real value at a pound of meat for less than 20 bucks. Cauliflower is not typically a veg we’re terribly fond of, but this version made us rethink that.
More “smashed” than “mashed” little florets of the healthful crucifer remained intact. It’s often assertive flavor had been admirably blunted via a smooth, creamy blend resembling béchamel.
What really made our tongues wag were the brash, bold celery root noodles — wide ribbons of that bulbous veg — sitting happily atop the meat.
Desserts might have been the meal’s real highlight. Mine, a cranberry-apple cobbler, was served piping hot in an individual white crock. Digging into the middle, we found big chunks of apple and tons of cranberries, cooked until their shells exploded. This resulted in a complex sort of natural juice that permeated right up to a topping of crunchy, brown-sugar laden crumbs. Completed with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, this is how a seasonal dessert should be done.
My dining partner’s blueberry crumb cheesecake, airy and sweet, was no chopped liver either. (Nothing against chopped liver, just working a deli metaphor.)
Now completing their initial season, Fitzpatrick’s demonstrates great promise as that rarest of all eateries; a full-service — read: three meals a day — food provider.
While the servers need to become more accustomed to the niceties of fine dining, they have seized upon a position in the market heretofore unexplored, thus reminding us of late genius comedian George Carlin’s classic comedy bit about starting a path. Paraphrasing, he said that while “You gotta hold down the weeds yourself at first,” the results would be worth the effort.
Fitzpatrick’s new path presently appears clear of impediment and ready for travel.
Fitzpatrick’s Deli and Steak House
Address: 650 New Rd., Somers Point
Our first opportunity to glimpse the space that would, as of Wednesday, Oct. 10, become Margate’s new Italian eatery Bocca, was early this past summer. At that time, the Ventnor Avenue property most locals recall as the former Sailfish had been stripped down to bare walls and earth.
The Somers Point Restaurant Week began Nov. 4 and concludes Nov. 13. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of the special dining event featuring $25.07 three-course dinners and $11.07 three-course lunches, you still have a few more days to go.
IN TIME FOR ST. PATRICK'S DAY, you may need the luck of the Irish to get a table during the day at Fitzpatrick's Jewish Style Delicatessen. Weekend breakfast and weekday lunchtime are particularly bu...
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