Table Talk: March-April 2013
Mobile pizzerias, vegan commercial kitchen, jDickey's and more
Everybody loves pizza and these days, we can get it just about any way we want it. Now a new twist on delivery adds to the fun: mobile pizzerias, the latest mini-trend in which local pizza makers bake pies in wood- or coal-burning ovens on a truck or trailer that can be parked at a party, farmers market and other events.
Local mobile pizza kitchens available for hire for this spring’s entertaining season include:
Tomato Flyer Pizza Co.: At the end of April, Bethesda’s Haven Pizzeria Napoletana owner Tiger Mullen rolls out the restaurant’s signature coal-fired pies, this time served up from renovated 1948 International Harvester KB-7 trucks. Salads, gelato and espresso are also available. Go to tomatoflyer.com.
Frankly…Pizza!: Chef Frank Linn, whose former gigs include Washington, D.C.’s 1789 Restaurant, Equinox and Café Atlantico, went full-time with his pizza trailer last May.
In addition to catering parties, Linn offers his fresh and simple pies at outdoor locations in Kensington, including the Saturday Kensington farmers market, as well as several other Montgomery County markets, when the season is in full swing. Go to www.franklypizza.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mia’s on the Move: Along with her signature wood-fired pizzas, Mia’s Pizzas owner Melissa Ballinger provides appetizers, salads and other main courses, plus desserts. And she has a catering license to serve beer, wine and liquor. During the spring, summer and fall, Mia’s on the Move is a regular at the Bethesda and Pike Central Farm Markets. Call 301-718-6427 or e-mail email@example.com.
While looking for additional production space to accommodate her new home-delivery service, Amy Waldman, owner of Bethesda’s Purée Artisan Juice Bar, ran into a problem.
The facilities she visited had sinks full of grease, meat and other products that could potentially cross-contaminate her uncooked vegan ingredients. Fellow raw food makers looking for commercial kitchen space had encountered similar obstacles, she says.
Seeing a need, Waldman opened a commissary in Kensington called The Plant in November. She says it’s the only commercial vegan kitchen in the metropolitan area.
The 2,400-square-foot space, a contractor’s former showroom and work area, was converted into a clean, white-and-stainless-steel kitchen housing sinks, refrigerators, freezers, sanitizing areas, a dishwasher and a dehydrator. Aside from using it for Purée’s production needs, Waldman rents out The Plant to other vegan raw food companies; there are no stoves, ovens or other cooking equipment on site.
To add a colorful touch, Waldman enlisted George Washington University art student Melissa Sturman to paint a mural on the inside of the commissary’s front window. Not surprisingly, it pictures carrots, strawberries, pineapples and kale.
The Plant, 10562 Metropolitan Ave., Kensington. For more information about Purée’s home delivery, go to www.pureejuicebar.com and click on “shop.”
In late April, Attman’s delicatessen, the Baltimore landmark established in 1915 on Lombard Street’s Corned Beef Row, will open a second location in the Cabin John Shopping Center & Mall in Potomac, raising high hopes for our deli-deprived area. Here’s what third-generation owner Marc Attman, 60, had to say about the historic decision to expand:
Why did you pick Potomac for your second location?
We do a lot of business, a lot of catering in Potomac. We have a lot of clientele who come from Potomac and stop by [the Baltimore restaurant]. We just felt that the community wanted us there. I like the shopping center. They fixed it up, brought in other food places. If it was like the way it was five years ago, I wouldn’t have gone there. I like where there’s action and variety.
Will it be different operating a deli in Potomac versus Baltimore?
I’m a good listener; I expect to be there a lot. If people would like something else or if we’re missing the boat…we didn’t get to be in business for 98 years by being stagnant. It is more expensive to do business in Potomac. I’d like to say pricing will be exactly the same [as Baltimore], but it’s pretty hard. For nighttime, there will be a dinner menu—brisket, a couple fish items, at reasonable price points.
What’s the key to a great deli?
A lot of today’s businesses, they run on a strong structure, they watch every penny, but it’s not for the customer. My business is the person coming in, knowing what they want.
The second thing is, I’m a third-generation guy. I was raised with corned beef in my bottle.
What’s the best way for diners to evaluate a deli?
If you want to know a deli, try a little bit of everything. Here’s what I think you should do, at least the first time: Get corned beef or pastrami, a hot dog with bologna, get a knish, get a flavor of everything. One of the things we’re going to try to do—it’s a little bit of a secret—is to bundle all that stuff together into a mini-feast for your table.
Are you worried about hiring good deli servers?
Everyone will be trained on Lombard Street. Everyone that we hire will spend a few weeks there, in the trenches. And there’s no tipping. Everyone makes a living wage.
Did you work at your family’s deli when you were a kid?
My mother put me on the bus and sent me down there when I was 8 years old. I’ve never stopped working. My father put me in the back with a retired Navy sergeant. He taught me how to clean out the pots, and make sure everything was spotless.
What’s it like opening a second location after nearly 100 years in one spot?
We’re very, very nervous. It’s new and exciting. And we’re also remodeling Lombard Street. I’m messing with success.
Divino Lounge & Restaurant, the once-hot Argentine steakhouse in Bethesda, closed in January. It’s being replaced by Yuzo, a Japanese restaurant.
Foong Lin restaurant may be gone from its former location on the corner of Norfolk and Fairmont avenues in Bethesda, but owner Fu Cheung bought the Moon Gate restaurant at 4613 Willow Lane, adding some new authentic Szechuan and Hong Kong dishes to his original menu.
The Secret Sauce
Jay Dickey had always relied on store-bought barbecue sauces, but one night nearly 20 years ago, he devised his own concoction from some fresh ingredients he had on hand.
The results were so superior to mass-market products he’d used that the University of Maryland graduate kept tinkering and expanding his repertoire. Friends became fast fans, and by 2011, he had left his job as a membership consultant at Bethesda’s Washington Sports Club to work on making the distinctive sauces a full-time job.
The result is jDickey’s, a line of zesty barbecue sauces (Blackberry Habanero, Maryland and Bourbon) with just the right amount of heat. Slathered on chicken, ribs, steak or seafood—whether they’re cooked indoors or out—the products contain no high fructose corn syrup, ketchup or that gluey texture sometimes found in mass-produced sauces.
After a lifetime of desk jobs, Dickey, 42, of Germantown says he’s living his dream and tears up every time he walks out of a store selling his barbecue sauces. “It’s my name, my sauce. It’s silly, but it’s true,” he says.
JDickey’s sauces, which sell for $6.99 to $7.99, are available at the Whole Foods Markets in Bethesda, Rockville and Gaithersburg; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; and the Chevy Chase Supermarket and Brookville Market in Chevy Chase. The Blackberry Habanero sauce also is used on the chicken wings and sandwiches at Quincy’s Bar and Grille in Gaithersburg. The sauces can be ordered online for $6.99 at www.jdickeyssauces.com.