Friday, November 22, 2013

Italian Gourmet Deli Food Review

I wouldn't use the term "Authentic Italian" to describe Italian Gourmet Deli, which opened their fourth location less than a month ago at 1707 L Street, NW (formerly home to Quiznos) but there's no arguing with variety, as in burger, fries, pizza, etc. Folks seem to agree with me: It was packed for lunch the other day.

Just how happy they were, remains to be seen. If their meals were anything like mine, they're probably perplexed at what could have been. Let's start with the dining area... clean & brightly lit, yet tough to navigate. For one thing, the fountain drink dispenser is trapped in a tight spot next to the pick-up area. Guess where people like to stand while they're waiting for food? Guess who didn't get a refill? The same guy who ordered a Classic Burger Combo for $8.95 + tax... Me.

I should apologize for not ordering at least pizza; but it's hard to pass on any burger, for review purposes. The Classic is pretty straight-forward: Black angus burger with lettuce, tomato and onion on a hamburger bun. Fries are seasoned, and the hard-to-reach fountain dispenser had Stewart's Root Beer (score!)

Classic Burger

I grabbed a table near the front door; but soon regretted my decision: It (table) was directly under a flat screen TV screaming ESPN at a high decibel. Even worse, every eye in the place seemed to be aimed at me (or rather just over my head.) Did I mention that out of the 15 or so customers at 11:45, there wasn't one woman? The table itself was spotless, with a convenient napkin dispenser. I only had to wait about five minutes for my number to be called.

Seasoned French Fries

In true "deli style," my food was wrapped in white paper; and I came back to my table, to see what Italian Gourmet Deli had up its sleeve. I started with the fries, which were excellent. Oddly enough, they were advertised as seasoned; but I didn't see (or taste) much of it. The frying was top-notch (twice-fried, I wonder?) although the oil needed changing (quite a few burned ones in my batch.) I would definitely order these again (and LARGE, for just $.55 more.)

The burger on the other hand, left much to be desired. For one thing, it appeared lost inside an admittedly great bun and an entire farm's worth of lettuce. Worse still, only half a slice of tomato (thin) and 2 strands of onion. The patty looked flat & frozen, and had little to no flavor. When the best part of your burger is your bun... you're in trouble.

I'm not sure how they can alleviate the traffic jam at the fountain dispenser; but the rest of the necessary changes should be easy to accomplish. I'll be back for breakfast and a pizza (different trips, of course) and I'm looking forward to both. Note to self: Don't sit near the loud TV.

Atmosphere: C (Nice & clean, but major minuses.)
Burger: D+ (Way too much lettuce. Big disappointment.)
Fries: B (Darn good, but they need to change oil sooner.)
Service: B- (Not very friendly, but the system is efficient.)
Value: B (Hard to find a problem with a bill under 10 bucks.)
Overall: C+ (Subpar burger, but plenty of room for improvement.)