Izzy and Mo’s Opens on King Avenue
Magdiale Wolmark, the James Beard-nominated chef behind Till Dynamic Fare, has finally opened the doors of the long-anticipated Jewish deli Izzy and Mo’s Luncheonette.
Wolmark initally announced plans over three years ago for a donut shop called Glaze, which would occupy the empty space next to Till on 249 King Avenue. Construction began in 2012, but after discovering a crumbling foundation, plans were delayed. As construction inched along, Wolmark realized he didn’t want to commit to donuts. He noticed the lack of Jewish cuisine in Columbus, and began experimenting with bagel-making techniques. Soon after, the concept of Izzy and Mo’s replaced Glaze.
“Opening a restaurant is not an easy thing to do,” said Wolmark. “The reason we decided to move forward with this project is we think it’s really unique in terms of the Columbus landscape. There are delis, but this one has a special concept going on. That’s what inspired us to get the job done.”
Wolmark has been in the restaurant industry for nearly 25 years. Born in Philadelphia, the new space is christened after his parents, Israel and Moriah Wolmark. Dishes are based in part from Wolmark’s parents’ Jewish heritage, and in part from the Jewish cultural migrational diaspora, where each community had its own cuisine. His mother was born in Israel, where there was a large Mediterrannean influence of healthy, vibrant, seasonal food. His father’s Polish roots inspired more of the schmaltzy, heavier, traditional Jewish food.
Izzy and Mo’s will offer two kinds of bagels: traditional chewy East Coast water bagels, and oblong pretzel-like Jerusalem bagels, primarily meant for dipping. A number of cream cheese schmears will be available for bagel pairing, along with caviar and smoked fish.
Jewish-style crepes called blintzes will be filled with traditional sweet cheeses, raisins, fresh fruits, and savory lox and cream cheese. The Shanghai blintz, filled with chili paste, cilantro, tofu egg salad and pickled veggies, is one of the more interesting dishes, influenced by Wolmark’s father’s time spent living in a Chinese work camp during his WWII childhood. Babka, a sticky cinnamon sweet bread, and sufganiyah, a traditional fried jelly donut, will also be available, along with potato knishes.
It’s worth noting that Izzy and Mo’s corned beef and pastrami are cured in-house, while the deli fish (lox, herring, and whitefish) are smoked on premise. A Cuban Reuben, hummus plate, matzo ball soup, tabouli salad, and a biodynamic frank are just a few of their lunch dishes. Desserts will include fig newton popovers, jars of dried fruit, black and white cookies, and cheesecakes bombs.
Drinks will include house-made celery soda, fresh-squeezed juices, and New York-style coffee sourced from Thunderkiss. As for the bar, Izzy and Mo’s has a full liquor license. They’ll serve a number of local canned beers and offer a simple red and white wine program. They’ll also be infusing fruit with high-proof vodkas to make seasonal schnapps shots.
“That authenticity factor we worked so hard to make happen is what makes us unique,” said Wolmark. “There’s a lot of places that serve tacos, and a number of gastropubs… but for now, there’s only going to be one place like Izzy and Mo’s.”
The interior of Izzy and Mo’s seats 20, while the patio will seat an additional 15. It will operate on a counter service model, where each customer receives an order number. Breakfast and lunch will be available 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, with closing time expected to eventually stretch to 7 p.m.
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