Fri 24 Oct 2008
Whether you’re a Philadelphia ex-pat or just a Phillies fan looking to celebrate the next World Series win, the Atlas District of H Street is quickly becoming your go-to destination. Philadelphia Water Ice Factory (1204 H Street, NE) already serves up classic icy treats and cheesesteaks on Amorosa rolls. Now, as reported at Metrocurean earlier this month, we’re a matter of days away from the opening of Taylor Gourmet, a combination deli, market and sandwich shop that will bring an updated taste of Philadelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market to 1116 H Street.
With final inspections taking place this week, owner Casey Patten took some time away from a round-the-clock construction schedule to give me a look around and fill me in on what we can expect once Taylor is open. Think classic Italian sandwiches with high-end ingredients on bread shipped down from Sarcone’s Bakery in South Philly. Imagine fresh mozzarella from Claudio, King of Cheeses (a gamble considering its three-day shelf life). Visualize shelves of authentic Italian olive oils, pastas and other market goods as well as Italian wines, bottled waters and beer.
Now wipe that drool and follow us inside for more information and photos.
With rolled steel countertops and walls decked out with reclaimed wood from shipping palettes, Patten and co-owner David Mazza are making a conscious effort to integrate materials that recall the warehouse and the transport process. Even in the space’s current state of disarray, the effect comes through loud and clear. Exposed brick walls, a corrugated metal ventilation system and a grid of pipes with interspersed lighting all add to the studied industrial vibe.
It’s a perfect complement to a menu that seeks to upgrade the wheel, rather than reinventing it. A classic Italian sandwich is just that - a classic. But all ingredients are not created equal, and Sarcone’s crusty bread is a deli meat delivery system that just can’t be replicated here in Washington (Patten knows – he asked more than a dozen local bakers to try and was unsatisfied with the results). Taylor will use meats and cheeses that are a cut above the competition – provolone cheese that has been aged for fourteen months, prosciutto and other cold cuts from Italian producers, fresh spreads and top-shelf condiments. The beverage fountain will dispense Boylan’s vintage sodas, instead of Coke or Pepsi. And the kitchen boasts a range, a grill and a fryer, allowing Taylor to offer a trio of hot sandwiches: sausage, chicken parmigiano, and a grilled version of the chicken parm for those who’d rather not have it fried.
Taylor will have seating for 27 people – a dozen at tables just inside the store, 5 at stools along a counter that faces into the kitchen, and another 10 in a space toward the rear of the shop. When the warmer weather rolls around, Patten and Mazza intend to open a courtyard seating area behind the shop – a deconstructed shipping container will frame the space and continue the interior’s themed decor.
Perhaps most exciting for delivery-starved Northeast, Taylor plans to offer delivery of both its sandwich menu and its gourmet market items, which will include frozen pasta and jarred sauces. The delivery area is set to include much of Capitol Hill and to stretch as far west as Penn Quarter (where Patten lives), but the official map has not yet been drawn.
Though it’s still too early to know for sure, Taylor Gourmet gives every indication of being a modern take on the classic Italian market (think A. Litteri). We can’t wait for the opening – thankfully, it sounds like we won’t have too much longer now.
1116 H Street, NE
Opening November 2008