Philly food and drink scene

Meet The Rooster, the CookNSolo Jewish deli Philly’s been waiting for

Philanthropic restaurant Rooster Soup Co. is being envisioned anew.

Pastrami sandwich at The Rooster

Pastrami sandwich at The Rooster

Alexandra Hawkins

It’s a good day for Philly fans of “appetizing.” The city’s best Jewish chefs are finally doing a Jewish deli.

Steve Cook and Mike Solomonov already translate the diverse flavors of Israel in their top-rated destination restaurant Zahav. They bring Israeli street food to American shores with Dizengoff and Goldie. Alongside chef Yehuda Sichel, they interpret the many flavors of the Jewish diaspora into elegant cuisine at Abe Fisher. They’ve even tried upscale kosher dining, at the former Citron and Rose on the Main Line.

But what they’ve never done, at least not for anything more than a temporary popup, is offer the classics of the Jewish-American delicatessen canon. Corned beef. Bagels with whitefish. Reubens. Patty Melts.

Until now. Effective immediately, innovative philanthropic restaurant Rooster Soup Co. is being refashioned as a diner-style Jewish deli.

The transition starts with a name change. The below-ground spot at 1526 Sansom St. in Rittenhouse will now be known as The Rooster.

“When it was warm out, the picture wasn’t…rosy,” the proprietors wrote in an open letter that admitted that while they were able to donate $16,000 during the first year, the spot was actually losing money in the summer. They concluded the issue might partly stem from having “soup” in the name.

“For some people, even thinking about soup on a hot day is enough to make them sweat,” they wrote. “And even though soup was only a small part of our menu, it seemed to be keeping people away.”

Although the moniker came from the restaurant’s underlying inspiration – to take the backs and bones of unused chicken from Federal Donuts and turn it into stock as the basis of a restaurant that would donate 100 percent of its profits to charity via the Broad Street Hospitality Collective — the restaurant has been more than a soup joint from the start.

Wedge salad at the new Rooster, with tehina dressing

Wedge salad at the new Rooster, with tehina dressing

Alexandra Hawkins

When it opened in 2016, two years after an ultra-successful Kickstarter campaign, the spot offered an assortment of soups, sandwiches and platters, plus beer and wine.

Over the past couple years, the menu was tweaked several times. Breakfast was introduced, then discontinued. Chef Erin O’Shea came over from Percy Street BBQ and added her Southern cooking touch. Most recently, chef George Sabatino had landed in the kitchen, and begun boosting the local sourcing and making everything from scratch.

With this new concept, Sabatino has stepped aside to pursue other projects.New chef at The Rooster is Jarrett O’Hara, putting out a menu is inspired by Solomonov, Cook and Sichel’s culinary direction.

Cook and Solo have talked for years about doing a Jewish deli, often in conjunction with Sichel, who was raised orthodox and whose first job was in a kosher Jewish deli in Baltimore. Now they finally are.

Nothing about the philanthropic concept will change, a rep for the company said. And the chicken from FedNuts will still be used — to make the Yemenite matzoh ball soup that anchors the new menu.

Here’s that menu, including some takes from the culinary team on why they selected the dishes they did.

Hours remain 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Want some more? Explore other Philly food and drink scene stories.

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