First Look: Deli Divine in St. Louis
Deli Divine, a Jewish deli and market from Ben Poremba’s Bengelina Hospitality Group, opened inside the Delmar Divine development at 5501 Delmar Blvd. in St. Louis on May 1. In addition to Reubens and other sandwiches filled with pastrami, corned beef and more, Deli Divine offers open-faced bagels and bagel sandwiches, kugels and knishes, matzo ball soup and other traditional Jewish deli items.
Deli Divine brings to life a long-standing ambition of Poremba’s to open a traditional Jewish deli in St. Louis city. In May 2022, he told us: “There's a few delis left – I can count them on one hand – and I just wanted to do a new one and give that culture, that tradition, a little more relevance.” The location is particularly poignant, since the neighborhood was once home to a significant Jewish community.
The deli is accessed via an entrance on the east side of Delmar Divine. Upon entering, you’re faced with two separate menus, one for bagels and bagel sandwiches, and another for lunch items including Deli Divine’s signature sandwiches, Reubens, kugels and more. Depending on what you came for, you’ll be directed either to the left or right end of the counter to place your order.
The first thing that pleases about Deli Divine is the look and feel of the place. Poremba and his team have consciously designed the space and its fittings to create a lived-in feel, and everything from the color scheme and booth seating to the signage around the counter gives the impression of a deli that might have been around for at least a few decades.
There’s so much to explore on this menu, and we think it will require several visits for us to settle on a few favorite items. Where you start will depend on how familiar you are with Jewish deli fare. The sandwiches are an obvious starting point: Rye or pumpernickel bread are the base for combinations of corned beef, pastrami, beef salami, beef tongue and more (meats are also available for purchase by weight). You can combine two or more meats in a sandwich like the Joseph Zimbrolt Combo (corned beef and beef salami on rye with mustard), named for a late family friend of Porembas and a keen photographer who donated many of the portraits that are framed on the walls at Deli Divine.
But don’t miss out on other treats like the knishes (the cabbage is excellent), noodle kugel and soups including chicken matzo ball, chicken dumpling and smoked fish chowder. The bagels are similarly compelling, with options including pumpernickel and marble as well as poppy, everything and sesame. There are sandwiches topped with Olio’s famous egg salad or the “really dilly” tuna salad, as well as a strong variety of fish options available including smoked salmon pastrami and thin-sliced lox.
Behind the deli space is an entire separate room for Deli Divine’s market, which is overseen by general manager Libby Wilson. The market has a similar feel to the deli, and stocks an extensive range of fresh foods and packaged goods, alcoholic drinks and more. Highlights include cheese and cream cheese, olives, babka, halva cake in various flavors, cakes from Russell’s, and grab-and-go salads, dips and more from Poremba’s Botanical Heights market, AO & Co. But seriously, there is pretty much something for everyone here, and it’s hard to leave empty-handed. The market space also has some additional indoor seating and looks out to Deli Divine’s courtyard patio.
Poremba said Deli Divine has been very well received so far, both by tenants at Delmar Divine and also the broader neighborhood and St. Louis community. He described himself as “humbled, but not surprised” by the response. “It's been very, very, very busy,” he said. “The community around us is excited about having a place that they can go to for breakfast and lunch and to grab a quick dinner to go. What we do see is a lot of versatility and diversity of people and ages and kinds of people, which is exactly what we aim for.”
Deli Divine is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday to Friday. The lunch menu is only available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., but bagels, pastries and other items are always available.
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