From Sun Sentinel
feb 15th, 2018
New Yorkers of a certain age will recall a famous ad campaign with the tagline, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Real Jewish Rye.” Ditmas Kitchen Boca could very well adopt the slogan, “You don’t have to be Jewish — or keep kosher — to enjoy Ditmas Kitchen.”
It is a good restaurant that happens to be kosher, not simply a good kosher restaurant. It features creative takes on vegetable and sushi dishes and the best restaurant steak I have had in a year, a mammoth, $85 seared cote de boeuf with a delectable crust and tender interior cooked perfectly to the ordered medium-rare. A great, juicy steak at a kosher restaurant? Who knew?
Ditmas Kitchen, which opened in January 2017 in a shopping center in an unincorporated area west of Boca Raton, does much to dispel myths about kosher cuisine. Among them is that kosher kitchens are commanded to cook meat to shoe leather. It turns out there is nothing in Jewish dietary law, known as kashrut, banning rare bone-in rib steak. However, there are prohibitions against pork, shellfish and anything from the rear half of the cow, including cuts such as sirloin, porterhouse and filet mignon. Also verboten is mixing meat with dairy items such as milk, butter and cream. These restrictions can be challenging for a chef and off-putting for food lovers of all persuasions, including myself, a Brooklyn-born, nonobservant Jew.
Kashrut’s noes and cannots might explain why the secular Jewish friends who joined me on my recent visit to Ditmas Kitchen were filled with trepidation. When we walked into Ditmas Kitchen without a reservation, we stood awkwardly near the entrance for what seemed like a long time and waited for acknowledgment. An Asian chef behind the new sushi bar waved and said hello. Managing partner Larry Edelstein finally appeared and apologized, explaining that he had been looking for an open table for us — the restaurant has a peculiar, L-shaped dining room that seats 55 — but nothing was yet available.
We looked around the room and saw tables filled with Orthodox families and men wearing yarmulkes (religious skullcaps) and tzitzit (religious tassels attached near the waist). On a cool and drizzly Sunday night, the usually lively patio with 70 seats was not operational, so the inside was more cramped than usual.
Because of the Jewish sabbath, the restaurant is closed on Fridays and only has limited late hours after sundown on Saturdays in winter months. “Thursdays are our Fridays and Sundays are our Saturdays, the busiest night of the week,” Edelstein explained in a followup interview. He estimates that 90 percent of the restaurant’s customers keep kosher.
Once seated, we had a meal that exceeded expectations and service that was friendly, good-humored and accommodating. We ordered a Herzog reserve California petit Syrah ($68) from the interesting wine list (another myth dispelled — there are good kosher wines), and a round of sushi and appetizers. We liked the wine so much we wanted another bottle with our entrees, but the only bottle left had already been opened and depleted by one glass. Edelstein asked if we wanted it at a discount ($50). We agreed, and took it. Unconventional, but we were happy.
Just as vegan cuisine demands workarounds that can be hit or miss, kosher cuisine can be deliciously inventive or woefully off-the-rails. Ditmas Kitchen is more hit than miss, thanks to the contributions of Alex Reznik, a Kiev-born, Brooklyn-raised, Los Angeles-based chef who created the concept, and Joe Reuter, a veteran local chef who has helmed the kitchen since August. Reuter, who has cooked at La Vieille Maison, the original Prezzo, Maxaluna, Blue Moon Fish Co. and Casablanca Cafe, brings classical French training and local sensibilities to the menu, which has been tweaked in recent months. A sushi bar and chef have also been added, a nod to Edelstein’s past running Asia, a kosher Asian restaurant in Boca Raton.
The mix can be a little meshuga (that’s Yiddish for “crazy”), but many items are good. The original Ditmas Kitchen in Los Angeles closed in September 2017 after four years, but Reznik’s lamb “bacon” jam lives on in South Florida atop a very good ground-chuck burger ($21). Lamb breast is smoked for four days, then minced into small bits and reduced with onions, red-wine vinegar and brown sugar. Who needs pork? Reznik’s earthy mushrooms with crunchy cashews ($9) also have endured, a good side dish that will please vegans and carnivores alike.
Reuter has added his own touches, including a new Tijuana hummus ($10) that blends ground chickpeas with avocado, a hummus and guacamole mashup topped with pico de gallo and served with freshly fried white corn chips. It’s creamy without requiring sour cream, and it works. A playful take on vegetarian tacos is called the Fun Guy ($14) because it has mushrooms (get it, fungi?), and the tacos are good, with chunks of Kennebec potatoes, kale and avocado aioli. A vegetable soup special ($10) was also satisfying.
Mystery-meat flatbread ($14) sounded scarier than it tasted, with shredded short rib piled on fried flatbread with a pestolike sauce, baby kale, pickled Fresno peppers and a quail egg. The meat was a little dry. Sushi rolls veered to the heavy and fried side, too, but they were tasty, including a crispy tuna rice roll ($15) that featured minced spicy tuna, and a fried tempura Larry roll ($18) with avocado, imitation crab and spicy mayo and topped with flecks of baked fish. Again, it sounded scarier than it tasted.
Sharing is encouraged, and dishes are brought from the kitchen as soon as they are ready. That means some items show up with lightning speed, while others arrive minutes later. A bow-tie chicken pasta dish ($24) was bland and uninteresting, but a pan-seared salmon ($25) atop a sweet potato puree was well executed and delicious. We were warned that the family-size, 32-ounce cote de boeuf would take 30 to 45 minutes, but it was worth the wait and the expense.
Kosher meat must be slaughtered and butchered a certain way under rabbinical supervision, and that makes it expensive. In this case, a bone-in rib steak from A.D. Rosenblatt of Dallas was seasoned with kosher salt and pepper, seared on a flattop grill and then allowed to rest for 15 minutes before being served. It was great by itself, but it’s a shame the three complimentary sauces listed on the menu — green peppercorn, secret mustard and apricot steak sauce — were not offered or brought. “We serve those on request,” Edelstein says.
Reuter got into the kosher-cuisine world earlier this decade working for Edelstein’s catering company, and he enjoys the challenge of making veloute with coconut milk and desserts such as creme brulee and bread pudding without milk, cream or butter. The coconut creme brulee ($9), made with nondairy whipped topping, was a runny mess with disappointing texture and good flavor, and the dense bread pudding reminded me of a kugel. Such are the concessions of the kosher kitchen.
From Boca Newspaper
April 7th 2017
Shellfish, pork and dairy — three things you will not find within the walls of Ditmas, a new venture from Top Chef alum and restaurateur Alex Reznik, whose original location of the restaurant is in LA. Reznik has opened up his Kosher, chophouse concept in West Boca, appropriately so, since this is a very heavily Jewish area with a lot of Kosher law-abiding residents. You will find an entire section devoted to steak and plenty of meat-heavy dishes, but those who keep Kosher can rest easy, as the beef used is of course, only cut from the front of the animal.
The restaurant is named for Ditmas Avenue, where chef/owner Reznik grew up in Brooklyn, New York. It’s only fitting for a restaurant named after a New York City street to open up in Boca Raton, a city that’s often referred to as another borough of NYC. The restaurant opened in December 2016 just in time to welcome in the new year with a bang — and hopes of impressing guests with their modern take on Kosher cooking.
You might be skeptical of dining without the promise of cheese or bacon (gasp!), but after a night at Ditmas, you’ll have successfully done so, and still be satisfied. Executive Chef Aaron Goldberg takes the reigns in the kitchen and has a dedicated team behind him to help along the way. Though some ingredients on the menu may change daily based on what is available, here is an idea of what you can expect.
The menu is quirky and non-traditional with things like “Dirty Pico Tacos,” “Mystery Meat Flatbread” and the “Obligatory Caesar” — which is anything but. Instead of romaine hearts and anchovies, you’ll find hearty kale and lemon confit, diced apples, horseradish “snow,” and garlic croutons.
French fry lovers will go crazy over the Tony Fries, a crazy concoction of flavors that will at first confuse you, but keep you going back for fry after fry, until you realize you’ve devoured the entire thing and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. The flavors are Asian meets Mexico, with pico and guacamole, Sriracha and togarashi, and a citrus aioli to add a pop. All of that is piled on to perfectly crispy French fries that have also been topped with shredded macacha chicken (dried meat that has been rehydrated). It’s a sight to be seen — and a dish to be eaten.
The Big Hawaiian Poke is another interesting thing you’ll find at Ditmas. Have you ever had smoked tuna? At Ditmas, you will. The poke is presented in a mason jar, allowing the smoke to completely infuse the tuna with its intense flavor and aroma. The best part is the crispy puffed black rice, which gives the dish a really cool textural element. The smokiness is met with even more big, bold flavor: sweet soy, avocado and orange segments.
There is a lot to choose from when it comes to entrees. Expect Chef Aaron’s out-of-the-box creations like short rib with butternut squash polenta, pickled Fresno chilis, crispy leeks and shaved horseradish, or the pan-roasted salmon with forbidden black rice and pear slaw.
Dairy-free sweets are becoming very mainstream as more and more people adopt vegan diets, but at Ditmas, dessert is taken to a whole new level. You’d never know there was no butter or milk in the insanely moist olive oil carrot cake. The crumb was so tender, the flavor so pronounced, and the citrus whipped cream is good enough to eat by the spoonful. Moving along, chocoholics will have no problem satisfying their sweet tooth with the chocolate chip brownie loaded with caramel sauce and marshmallow. There is no turning back once you’ve dug your fork into this thick brownie. The inside is rich and dense, lined with perfectly crisp edges. And if you thought your chocolate-loving heart had enough, you’re wrong. The chocolate-avocado mousse with salted caramel custard, toasted marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crumble will give you goosebumps.
Ditmas is located at 21077 Powerline Road in Boca Raton. For more information about the restaurant, visit ditmasboca.com.
From Sun Sentinel
Aug 21st, 2017
Ditmas Kitchen Boca
21077 Powerline Road, west of Boca Raton, 561-826-8875, DitmasBoca.com
This glatt kosher restaurant recently began serving lunch Monday through Thursday after opening six months ago in the former House of Dog.
Selections feature a build-your-own omelet ($10), Mystery Meat Flatbread with salsa verde and quail egg ($10), Dirty Pico Tacos ($10) and sloppy joe Bedford burger ($14). Salads ($10-$12) include Obligatory Caesar.
“One thing that I noticed in my travels was there wasn’t a great kosher restaurant,” says Alex Reznik, who has appeared on Food Network shows and named Ditmas after his childhood street in Brooklyn. “With that knowledge, I opened Ditmas L.A. just over three years ago. With its success came Bedford in New York City. Ditmas is here to break the current stigma commonly associated with kosher restaurants and show the world how great it can be.”
The dinner menu is expanding with more vegetarian dishes, such as mushroom tacos with crispy kale ($14). Signatures include Shalom Burger with lamb-bacon jam ($19), short rib ($36) and bone-in rib-eye ($58). Beer and wine are available.
The narrow industrial dining room with exposed brick juxtaposes a red-leather-tufted banquette with blue upholstered chairs. Patio seating is available.
From Boca Magazine
Aug 29th 2017
For restaurants, September is the lazy month of the year. OK, this year the summer’s been a bit lazy, too, but things will kick up for foodies Sept. 1, when special restaurant deals swing into action.
Boca Restaurant Month runs Sept. 1-30 with prix-fixe lunches and dinners at your favorite Boca spots. There’s a theme: Boca Loves New York, which means each participating restaurant has to offer a minimum of one New York-inspired dish or cocktail in those specials. Lunches will run $21-25, dinners $36-40.
Some places to visit: Brio Tuscan Grille, Morton’s Steakhouse, Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, Sushi Ray, Tap 42, Uncle Tai’s, Oceans 234, Roots Italian Kitchen, City Fish Market, Tilted Kilt, Rebel House, Henry’s, Pinon Grill, Ditmas, Max’s Grille, The Melting Pot, Junior’s, Café 5150, Café Med Ristorante, Ruth’s Chris, Matteos, DaVinci’s of Boca, Zin Burger and Pavilion Grille. More details are at bocarestaurantmonth.com.
April 28 2017
A Jewish chef recently won a cook-off against celebrity chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay with matzah ball soup that reminds him of his grandmother, he told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
On an episode of Food Network‘s “Beat Bobby Flay,” which aired on April 20, restaurant owner and chef Alex Reznik competed against a chef from Nevada before going head-to-head with Flay himself.
Reznik said he decided to make matzah ball soup as his final dish in the competition because he “wanted to do something that incorporated my childhood and where I grew up.”
“My bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) used to make matzah ball soup all the time…it’s Jewish penicillin,” he continued. “It brought back memories of my grandmother, mother [and] I make it for my daughter.”
Reznik — who is originally from New Jersey — joked, “I live on Delta Airlines” — since he travels frequently to manage the restaurants he is the chef and owner of, which are Bedford Kitchen & Wine Bar NYC, and Ditmas Kitchen & Cocktails in Los Angeles and Boca Raton.
The chef told The Algemeiner of his appearance on Flay’s show, “I’m always proud to represent the Jewish community. One is [for] Hashem…that’s my number one. My number two is obviously my daughter [and] my mother, not to be a little overly dramatic, and obviously my dad is important to my life, and my brother, and the rest of my family.”
He added that keeping to the strict dietary rules of kosher cooking during the competition was difficult for him. “Trust me,” he said, “my hat was really hot. Keeping a hat on during the whole process was very hot.”