Though it has been around the corner for the last two years we’ve lived in our apartment, I’ve never set foot in Izzy’s. David would bring the option up, and I would immediately use my marriage veto powers.
To understand why, I have to explain about a job I had in my late teen years at a nursing home. A Jewish nursing home. And not just any Jewish nursing home, an Orthodox one.
I worked in the dietary department, and my duties consisted of assembling trays of food, bringing the carts filled with trays to the assorted dining rooms, retrieving the carts once the meal was over, and working with the other staff in washing all the dirty dishes in the industrial washing machines.
The home took the Orthodox part of their jobs very seriously. We kept full kosher, with two sets of dishes and entirely separate kitchens and dishwashers. We had a Rabbi on standby in case a meat fork went through the dairy dishwasher and unkoshered the whole thing. And don’t even get me started on cleaning the kitchens for Passover. Ever been tasked with cleaning an industrial oven with a toothbrush and razorblades? I have.
It was an interesting peek into another religion’s customs, and not a bad place for a college kid to work. My fellow staff were nice, and the management was extremely tolerant of my hair color, which at that point in my life, was pink and blue.
But it was the cow tongue that eventually got to me.
In additional to keeping kosher, we also served a lot of traditional food. Cow tongue day was the worst for me, with entire trays of half and whole tongues swimming in sauce waiting to be plated. I could see the taste buds, I explained to David.
Once I left the home for a more grown up job, I decided I never wanted to see another gefilte fish or matzo ball again.
I’ve grown a lot since college, and though my hair still isn’t its natural color, I’d probably be a lot less bothered by the cow tongue nowadays. Looking over Izzy’s menu of sandwiches, I realized that continuing to avoid an entire restaurant just because of a job in my past was pretty silly.
David and I have since tried 6 of Izzy’s menu items, including the tasty potato pancake served with every sandwich.
I chose to construct my own sandwich of three meats ($7.70) with pastrami, corned beef, and roast beef. I thought the corned and roast beef were good, but my favorite was by far the flavorful pastrami.
David chose to get the variety plate, choosing egg salad, chopped liver, potato salad and cole slaw. ($7.95)
While we were at Izzy’s I saw that for a limited time, Izzy’s is featuring the goetta Reuben ($7.95), which I decided I absolutely had to order. A little embarrassed to order a ton of sandwiches for the two of us, and since I also wanted to try their salami, we returned the next day.
We chose the salami combo ($7.70), the goetta Reuben, and the Mex' sandwich (6.95).
Corned beef, sweet yellow onion, jalapeno peppers, melted swiss and chipotle sauce
Salami, cream cheese, pesto, red onion and tomato
My favorite sandwiches that we ordered were the goetta Reuben and the 3 meat sandwich. I appreciated the simplicity of the three meats (especially the pastrami), and the flavors of the goetta Reuben, and I’ll be going back to get another before they stop making it.
David loved the salami combo—he particularly liked how the salami was broiled before it was put on the sandwich. Also, he says, “I’m a sucker for anything with cream cheese on it.”
I definitely feel silly for waiting so long to visit. David and I both agree we like the variety of sandwiches; you can order traditional deli sandwiches or one of their specialties, which have varied and creative ingredients.
It’s easy to forget that Izzy’s is a Cincinnati restaurant, much like Skyline, LaRosa's, or Graeter’s. For some reason it doesn’t seem to get as much press—though it definitely should. I know I am definitely happy to have pastrami within a block's reach.