For today's Friday Guest Blogger series, our friend Kenny has written a great review on Rascals Deli in Blue Ash. Kenny went to Cincinnati State for Culinary School and UC for food chemistry, so he is what we would consider a pro. Hope you enjoy and we can't wait to try this place! Thanks Kenny!
On a Saturday in March I woke up hung over on a friend’s couch to the sun cutting across the room (what a novel concept). As I struggled to open my eyes and realize where I was, I caught a glimpse of Cincinnati Magazine on the coffee table. I grabbed it and habitually flipped to the dining section of the magazine. I discovered a picture of the most heavenly looking burger I had ever seen. I instantly knew what I was going to do that afternoon. I was headed to Rascals New York Deli in Blue Ash to get the Rascals’ Dagwood burger.
As I walked into the crowded restaurant I was a little taken back because it had an industrial and unwelcoming feel to it. Cheap metal chairs accompanied by small square tables crammed a foot apart from each other. I remember thinking, “this is way too close for comfort today.” Then the motif of the restaurant hit me and a comforting memory came back to me. This place reminds me of the time when I ate at a deli in New York City! It all makes sense now, duh. After this thought, I was taking in all the great old pictures of New York’s skyline on the walls when a friendly voice snapped me out of my bubble. A gentleman named Gary said hello and escorted us to our table menus in his hand.
After gazing at the myriad of choices Rascals has to offer, one quickly realizes this is a Jewish deli. This excited me even more because I have never eaten the cuisine. My next thought was Matzoh Ball soup. Rascals offer two kinds: Chicken Noodle and Matzoh Ball and Chaya’s Matzoh Ball soups. The difference was in the second version, the matzoh ball is filled with chicken and love. I could not argue with love so I settled on it to complement my burger. As I continued through the menu I found another enticing treat, pierogies. I thought to myself, why not? I’ll be a fat kid today. My game plan was complete. I was ordering Chaya’s Matzoh Ball soup with extra love, pierogies and the Rascals’ Dagwood. The cure for any hang over if you ask me!
After placing the order, food came in a timely manner. That was impressive because it was busy. The bowl of soup came first. It was not what I expected at all. I anticipated small matzoh balls that would fit nicely on a spoon. Instead, it was one huge matzoh ball the size of a softball engulfing the bowl. It was very aromatic, savory and tender. You could tell it was marinated in chicken broth for quite some time. There was one down side, the dough was a little dense in my opinion. I knew instantly I could not finish it. The matzoh ball sat in my belly like a brick, too much love for this boy. I highly recommend trying it if you have never had it because it was a fun experience.
On deck were the pierogies. For those of you who do not know what it is, a pierogi is traditionally Polish specialty. They are half-moon shape noodle dumplings filled with savory or sweet mixtures. Rascals offers them cooked two ways, boiled or sautéed with your filling choice of potato, cheese and onion. They are accompanied with the following items: sour cream, cottage cheese, and diced tomatoes. I ordered them with all of the above and they were sautéed. I wanted some texture out of the pierogi. They were fantastic. Each item enhanced the pierogies perfectly. Which shocked me because I was really skeptical about the cottage cheese. It was successful because of the creaminess of the cottage cheese combined with the acidity of the tomatoes and the savory flavor of the onions. It was like a party in my mouth.
I made quick work of the pierogies and was eagerly awaiting the reason for the trip, Rascals’ Dagwood. A Dagwood sandwich is named after Dagwood Bumstead, a character in the “Blondie” comic strip, this extremely thick sandwich is piled high with a variety of meats, cheeses, condiments and lettuce. Rascals NY Deli does not disappoint. It is chopped sirloin topped with grilled pastrami, creamy cole slaw, cheddar and swiss cheese, potato latke (traditionally served at Hanukkah, it is a pancake made from grated potatoes mixed with eggs, onion and matzo meal then deep fried), lettuce, tomato and onion on a Kaiser roll. It is stacked so high they serve it with a knife stabbed through the top to keep it together. This bad boy rings in at $14.95 but it is worth every penny. The worst thing about this sandwich was trying to politely eat it. A problem I quickly discarded as I tuned out everything around me to devour my hangover helper.
Despite my adventures the previous night, I truly enjoyed my time and food at Rascals NY Deli. They have so much to offer and they prepare food the right way. I do not have a rating scale but I give the place the highest complement a restaurant can have: a return visit to eat more food. I am leaning towards the brisket! Who wants to go?