Two weeks ago a deli door closed, potentially forever, while another opens today. Wise Sons, a highly-regarded chain of delis in the San Francisco Bay Area that originally opened in 2012, brings its tight menu of pastrami sandwiches, bagels, and other classic dishes to Culver City in the former Amacita space.
Co-founder Evan Bloom grew up in Ventura and came to Los Angeles often to eat at the likes of Brent’s, Langer’s, and especially Pico Kosher Deli with his grandparents, and has high regard for the city’s deli culture. Wise Sons joins a still-vibrant deli scene that lost Greenblatt’s suddenly (and also Label’s Table earlier this year) but boasts plenty of newer school restaurants like Daughter’s in West Hollywood, Wexler’s in Santa Monica and Downtown, and Eleven City in Mid-Wilshire. And there’s even more in the way of deli cooking from the Bad Jew, Birdie G’s, and Jeff’s Table.
But today is about Wise Sons, Bloom’s deli that celebrates the rich culture of its dining format while making room for some LA sensibilities. House-smoked pastrami, brined corned beef, and smoked turkey takes center stage in double-baked rye sandwiches, with an ode to the famous Number 19 at Langer’s (which Bloom calls the best sandwich in the world), and even a kimchi Reuben. A diner tuna melt becomes an LA-only sandwich for the California (and Tokyo) chainlet, while a double-stack pastrami burger on a challah bun will feel very much at home in Los Angeles. “My grandparents were strictly kosher, so I grew up eating a burger at Pico Kosher Deli that had pieces of pastrami on top. I have that nostalgia and memory from childhood,” says Bloom.
Bagels in LA have also gotten a lot of attention recently, especially from New Yorkers. Wise Sons does theirs the old school way, with bagels made fresh every day on the premises with just five ingredients, boiled in malt water, and then baked. Los Angeles might be in the midst of a bagel boom, but Wise Sons has been making them like this for well over five years. Seasonings like poppy seed or onion go on all sides of the bagel for maximum flavor. Bagels come with smoked salmon, veggie schmear, and plenty of other familiar accoutrement. The menu rounds out with a pastrami breakfast burrito, babka, matzo ball soup, rugelach, latkes, challah french toast, and bottomless hot coffee: all trademarks of a great everyday restaurant.
As for why they opened in Culver City, Bloom saw a need for deli food in the neighborhood, with growing demand from large studios like Sony, Amazon, and Apple; he also thinks future LA expansion would be about filling neighborhood needs. When asked if he would ever open in Ventura, his hometown, Bloom said his mom has certainly brought it up. In fact, Bloom’s mother might be a common fixture in Culver City, standing at the doorway and maybe even handing out business cards that read: “Deli Owner’s Mother.” Evan Bloom operates Wise Sons with brother and partner Ari Bloom.
The space gets high design and modern appointments with the back mural from Berkeley-based illustrator Alexandra Bowman, vintage pennants by Scott Richards, and framed Bloom family portraits. Creative director Danny Gonzales, who has been with Wise Sons for multiple locations, helped design the Culver City space. Vintage hanging Danish lamps and Thonet’s Vienna-style coffee house chairs give it a dash of Old World charm and a sense of permanence. Here’s to hoping Wise Sons, like all the great deli food in LA, is here to stay.
Wise Sons opens in Culver City today, with hours from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 8 a.m. on weekends. Dinner hours, plus beer and wine, will be forthcoming.