Northern Virginians have a new place to nosh and kibbitz now that DGS Delicatessen has opened a second location in the growing Mosaic District in Fairfax. Co-owners and cousins Nick and David Wiseman launched the first location on Connecticut Avenue in Washington in 2012.
“There is a big Jewish community in Northern Virginia just like in the Maryland suburbs and [similar to how] we felt D.C. was an underserved community for what we wanted to do, we thought this was a community that could use some good delicatessens and some good food,” said David Wiseman.
According to Wiseman, people were driving more than 45 minutes from Virginia to Dupont Circle to dive into a Reuben, brisket sandwich or matzo ball soup, among the other traditional deli items on the menu.
“We figured we’d make it a little easier for them,” Wiseman said.
The larger Fairfax restaurant seats 95, including red booths and a bar where patrons can grab a schmoozer or mazel tov cocktail and catch the game on two flat-screen TVs.
While DGS customers will notice a similar menu to the Washington location, there could be a few changes coming, according to head chef Brian Robinson.
“We’re going to tweak out here depending on demand. We need a spicier mustard. It’s been the cry, so we’ll tweak that.”
Historically, there hasn’t been a big New York-style deli culture in Northern Virginia, but there is some competition for DGS, including Celebrity Delly in Falls Church, Bernie’s Delicatessen in Fairfax City and Chutzpah Deli at Fairfax Towne Center.
The DGS concept of putting a contemporary twist on traditional deli culture has been successful so far for the Wiseman cousins, both fourth-generation Washingtonians; David grew up in Potomac and Nick grew up in Northwest Washington. The Washington eatery was ranked 30th in Washingtonian magazine’s 100 best restaurants of 2015 and snagged a RAMMY Award this year for best everyday casual restaurant.
The Wisemans hope to replicate that success in Northern Virginia.
“One of the great things and one of things we love about Connecticut Avenue that we hope we see here is that it is a democratic place,” Wiseman said. “On a Friday afternoon on Connecticut Avenue we got lawyers, a lot of journalists and we got college kids in sweatpants. It’s very accessible and it’s a kind of a place where everyone can come in and kind of mix and I think those kinds of restaurants are what it used to be and that’s what we want to continue and that’s the spirit of the New York deli is that inclusion.”