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Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli -Ocean City, Md.

/ Updated on July 15, 2017
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Maryland fressers of a certain age might remember Hofberg’’s Delicatessen in Silver Spring, Md. The place was truly Kosher, and I still remember the sign behind the counter that proudly proclaimed: “”The only ham we serve at Hofberg’s is Hamm’s Beer!”” The place was open until 4am, and I spent many a late-night in there winding down from 4-5 hours on stage playing rock ‘n’ roll, enjoying one of their incredible open-faced reubens; slowly growing from a svelte teenage Foodlet to a fully rounded Foodie. In retrospect, “growing” — or perhaps rounded — is the operative word.

Later generations still speak reverently of the long-gone Celebrity Deli on Nebel St. in Rockville, Md. (Ahh, Chuck Rossler’’s matzoh ball soup and chunky, all white-meat chicken salad on pumpernickel!) Or EdMart on Reisterstown Road in Baltimore (the rainbow cake!) and Attman’’s in downtown Baltimore (the ruder they are behind the counter, the better the food tastes there on Lombard St.).

No matter where you get your Jewish fix, one can’’t help compare non-New York delis to the epicenter of deli devotion: New York City. Specifically, Carnegie on 7th at 55th (sadly closed forever as of the end of 2016), Katz’s at 205 E. Houston (pronounced “HOUSE-ton”), and for the strictly Kosher, the 2nd Ave. Deli (162 E. 33rd – oh, the onion rings). I’’m sure I will get emails protesting these choices, but those still remain my favorites.

So it was with some trepidation that I responded to Warren Rosenfeld’’s kind invitation to visit his new Jewish (not Kosher — he politely informed me that there IS a difference) deli in Ocean City, Md. “What about the pickles,” I fretted. “Will the meats find that perfect spot between fatty and lean?” I tossed and turned as they slowly built the place over the winter of 2013, dreaming of cheesecake, black-and-white cookies, bright green cracklin’’ half-done pickles and the perfect chopped liver. They opened in late spring 2013, and I managed to sneak in there several times undetected, though on later visits I was “outed” by their opening GM, Jeff Osias, who left to return to his roots at DiFebo’’s in Bethany and Rehoboth Beach. But the show must go on!

I’’ll start with the stars of the show: The Matzoh Ball Soup is very, very good. It is of the “chicken noodle” persuasion (not unlike Rossler’’s nectar-of-the-gods version in Rockville, Md.). Though purists might scoff at it not being just plain chicken broth, scoff away: It’’s my website. The matzoh ball is a bit firmer and creamier than the more crumbly variety I’’m used to, but the taste is certainly there and the soup is a must-get.

I love “half-dones.” A half-done is a lightly brined pickle that is still crunchy and bright green. They are an absolutely necessary requirement for a Jewish Deli to earn its name. The half-dones at Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli are crunchy, crispy, cold, and fill the bill perfectly. They start you out with just a couple, but are happy to refill the stainless bowl on request. Just be sure to eat them. They are too good to go to waste. On that subject, they are often out of the half-dones in the off-season. The problem is that the reduced business requires the pickles to soak in the brine longer. After a while, they eventually pickle themselves into just regular Kosher pickles. So there.

I was surprised to see Stuffed Cabbage (holishkes). Traditionally served for Sukkot, the autumn harvest festival, they come in all varieties depending on what part of the Mediterranean you’’re used to. I am most familiar with the Middle-Eastern version where the cabbage leaf-wrapped rice/lamb combination is slowly cooked in a lemon-based broth with perhaps a bit of garlic. So when they showed up covered in a tomato-based marinara (it was too light to be a sauce) I was intrigued. The slight sweetness of the marinara reminded me of the best stewed tomatoes I’’d ever had. Slightly sweet, chunky, yet still light enough to allow the taste of the filling to shine through. The rolls (2, yet) were still firm and meaty. They were delicious. But if you’’re getting a sandwich, order them to share.

Another star of the show is the Chopped Liver. I was incognito on that visit, so I couldn’t out myself by using the camera, but trust me: This creamy concoction is savory, smooth and delicious. My spies have also reported positive encounters with the Herring in Cream Sauce, the Kishka (with gravy) and the Cucumber and Onion Salad.

The Holy Grail of any deli is the meats, and my go-to tests are of the corned beef and the pastrami. I had heard mixed reviews on the meats at Rosenfeld’s. So I was ready for anything.  We ordered the 12 oz. versions of both the Corned Beef sandwich and the Pastrami sandwich. They offer 8 oz. of meat for the wimps, 12 oz. for those who take this sort of thing seriously, and 16 oz. for the committed fressers (you know who you are!). My corned beef was served on very fresh rye (I love it soft and fresh), with Swiss cheese, slaw and Russian dressing. (I have been known to slather a bit of deli mustard for good measure.) My favorite Foodie-in-Waiting insisted on ordering the pastrami “plain.” Boring, yes, but admittedly a good way to truly test the taste.

Positives on the meats: Thinly sliced (these meats are fatty by nature, and thin slices make for a better mouth-feel). Perfect color (they must be red, which indicated proper salting procedures were followed in the brining process). The pastrami was generously peppered.

Negatives on the meats: Though the taste of Rosenfeld’s corned beef and pastrami was perfectly fine, neither of the meats were pickled strongly enough. I tasted none of the coriander, bay leaf and slight sweetness that is prevalent in house-brined versions. Keep in mind that both Carnegie and Katz’s in New York brine their own meats. The taste is wonderfully strong and bright with acidity, with “a pickling spice” edge that varies from batch to batch. Warren, have you considered brining your own meat? It would probably be cheaper in the long run and you could tailor it to what I know you are used to. Just sayin’…. [The friendly Mr. Rosenfeld actually answered that question by telling me that he didn’t have the room in the Ocean City facility to bring that many briskets at once. Makes sense. But he is thinking of expanding northward, and I’m going to hold him to his promise!]

I will certainly get both sandwiches again, but I will silently wish for a stronger kick from both the corned beef and the pastrami. By the way, the cole slaw is simply perfect for the sandwiches; –not too wet, and still cold and crunchy. The textural roller coaster of the soft rye against the crackle of the slaw and the warmth of the meat was delightful. All 12 ounces were happily devoured, if not with the lingering reservations enumerated above.

Warren Rosenfeld urges you to “Fill your belly at our Jewish Deli” for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 63rd and Coastal Highway, just before the exit to the Rt. 90 bridge. Get into the turn lane for the bridge and watch closely for their sign. Turn right immediately AFTER you pass the sign for lots of free parking. Don’’t hesitate, or you will end up in Bishopville. It’s nice there this time of year, but there are no half-done pickles in Bishopville.

There are lots more things to try, including their smoked fish, bagels, latkes, fried bologna (! – love the stuff, especially wrapped around a Hebrew National frank), omelets, pancakes, reubens, salads … – there’s certainly something for everybody at Rosenfeld’s, and you do not have to be Jewish to love it. Warren promises that.

Call (410) 520-0283 to check hours before trekking down there (especially in the off-season), and in-season hours are 7:30 a.m. ‘til 9 p.m. daily. Take a look at Rosenfeld’s lunch/dinner menu here. (B, L, D) Price range: Expensive -.

Off-season Specials & Hours

Specials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.

pp = per person.
BOGO = buy one, get one.
Bloody = bloody mary.
domestics = American-made beers (e.g., Bud).
imports = foreign beers (e.g., Heineken).
Rails = non call-brand alcohol.
Prix Fixe = one set price.
Mains = entrees.
Margs = margaritas.
Chix = chicken.
AYCE = all you can eat.
Lite = Miller Lite
drafts = draught beer.
Early Birds = arrive before a certain time.
Apps = Appetizers.
bottles = beer in a bottle.
à la carte = order off the menu (no prix fixe).
crafts = micro/artisanal brews (e.g., Old Leghumper Lager)

6301 Coastal Highway (just before the Rt.90 bridge)
Ocean City, MD

410-520-0283

Sunday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
Monday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
Tuesday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
Wednesday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
Thursday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
Friday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
Saturday
Open 8 - 8:30 in season
Open 11-6 off season.
The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. joan says:

    sorry to say that this doesn’t even come close to a new york jewish deli. rye bread is more like flavored wonder bread. ($ 6. for 1/2 loaf) + be prepared to wait awhile for employees to not only recognize that you are waiting but also actually wait on you.

  2. Carl says:

    We decided to try the new Deli in Rehoboth (May 30th) , what a mistake that turned out to be. As we were looking to order, I ask the sales person which was better between two meals, she looked straight as my wife and I and stated “I don’t eat this crap” . That should have been our first clue. I ordered a White fish salad on a pumpernickel bagel with lettuce, tomato and red onion. As our order was to go, we finally took our meal (it took 9 minutes to make a white fish salad sandwich and left. When we started eating, the sandwich was on rye swirl bread, toasted with raw onion.
    The most interesting item was our waiting, I noticed that the kosher chicken for sale had a sell by date of April 24th, and all the candy bars were set to expire on 6 June, I sure hope they changed them out.
    In the end, we will not be back, it should not cost $25 for two sandwiches.

  3. Terra says:

    Sorry went to the Ocean City Location & ordered the Latkes. They took forever to get & it wasn’t even busy. The Latkes tasted & looked (same size, same color, same form) just like the frozen ones I buy at the grocery store. I have had Latkes in 15 other Jewish Delis & they were fresh big & full of flavor. If you are ever in Tampa visit the Pierogi Palace & your Latkes will be flavorful, light & the size of a dinner plate. Best Latkes hands down. Plus their perogi, cabbage roll & kelbaska & sauerkraut melt in your mouth.

  4. Bruce says:

    It’s unclear to us whether or not Rosenfeld’s makes its own pastrami and corned beef. On our one visit to their OC restaurant, off-season, it appeared our corned beef and pastrami came out of a package and was just heated up. So, they lost points for that. I don’t know if they truly “make their own” during the season, and you might know the answer. Absent of any other Jewish deli of note in the Rehoboth vicinity, we’ll give the new place a shot once it arrives.

    • The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

      Bruce…
      Rosenfeld’s does not have the room in their current location to cure their own corned beef and pastrami. The pre-prepared meats that they use, however, are the most expensive on the market and are of the very highest quality; used at many of the Jewish/Kosher delis in New York who don’t have the space to cure their own.
      There is always the chance that they might start doing it themselves at the new Rehoboth Beach location. I suspect that the fact that you were not sure if the beef was house-cured or packaged spoke well for the product they use.

  5. Lucky mom says:

    As a native New Yorker, I was thrilled to find Rosenfeld’s. The chopped liver, sandwiches and pickles are right on target. Even though the latkes and derma were a disappointment at first, I was pleased to learn, that they are not NY type, rather Baltimore type. Totally get the regional aspect. That said PLEASE come to Rehoboth!

  6. Norma Marsho says:

    We visited this summer. I live nearby in OC and brought a friend to try the new deli. I was very disappointed. I asked for the brisket sandwich and first asked if the brisket was lean. I was told that it was lean, and well done… duh… when we got home and started to eat I realized that my brisket sandwich, generous as it looked, was about 50% fat! Big edges of fat everywhere. I had to take apart the sandwich, trim the fat and got about half a sandwich out of it. I was VERY disappointed. I will try again and ask to see the brisket before I order.

  7. NYC Foodlover says:

    Four of us ate there on Tuesday. The place is surprisingly small, but no matter. The food was great–stuffed cabbage excellent, except lacking in the raisins Bubbe used. Personally, I preferred the pastrami to the overly fat, overly salted version. Minor complaints–bread could be firmer, not really like NYC, but pretty good–hard to find decent bread in this area. New Touch of Italy in Rehoboth perfect example–bread in Lewes was much much better. Also, found the half sour pickles, yes, it’s really half sour, not half done, a little too sweet.

  8. TB says:

    Have wanted to go here ever since I heard about it, and was not disappointed. The matzo ball soup is out of this world! I had the Schlepp sandwich (triple decker of pastrami, corned beef, and brisket) with Russian dressing, which was superb–soft bread, tender and flavorful meat. A huge serving. Unlike others, I found the service to be excellent. We were in and out in no time.

  9. Bill H says:

    I’m not familiar with Jewish or Kosher delis, but we stopped at Rosenfelds and my wife had her first corned beef sandwich ever and I had a pastrami sandwich. Both were delicious. We especially like the cole slaw. We WILL return.

  10. T&T says:

    Goodness, the chopped liver is delicious, and the pickles are as you said. And my wife and I could live on the matzoh ball soup and the holishkes (that sauce!).
    But you’re right — the pastrami and CB looked right with a nice texture, but were very light on taste. We could get them at the Giant from Dietz & Watson and saved the trip to OC. We love the place, and we hope they read this and get some authentic brined meats.

  11. Jack and Marta says:

    We just returned from Rosenfeld’s and we agree. The corned beef and the pastrami don’t come near the NYC versions. The meats are stored in the display case and it looks like they’re purchased from Saval. Their meats are OK (used to buy their Italian cold cuts for my restaurant), but if Rosenfeld’s is going to make a big hit, they have to hit the ground running with briskets that taste like they should.
    C’mon, guys! Get a good, bright recipe and brine these things yourselves!!

  12. Always Hungry says:

    It’s hard to replicate the full experience at Carnegie or Katz’s in NYC, I know; but this is a welcome addition to the beach area so far as I’m concerned.
    The matzoh ball soup is precisely as I remember from Celebrity Deli in Rockville MD (I used to go there too.) Actually, I always preferred the Celebrity Deli matzoh ball soup over anything in NYC, and Rosenfeld’s delivers on that, to my delight.
    The pastrami is fine, not through the roof, but very good. However, the stuffed cabbage, something I don’t normally get, was outstanding. I hear the chopped liver is great too, and I will be returning to Rosenfeld’s to try that out, as well as other items.
    And thank you for carrying halvah…I forgot how tasty it is!

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