A new restaurant-style delicatessen straddling the Providence/Pawtucket line is a dream come true for owner Jason Sugarman. “Maven’s is my baby. I’ve been working on this for like 12 years. The right pieces finally came together at the right time,” he says. An industry veteran, Sugarman was inspired by iconic delis like Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House in Florida, although he promises Maven’s Delicatessen, which opened in December, will be uniquely Rhode Island.
Along with partner and culinary director Jaime D’Oliveira, Sugarman aims to serve traditional Jewish fare with a modern touch. Inside the scratch kitchen, chefs boil their own bagels and smoke all their meats. “We’re making our own hot dogs, salami, and smoked salmon,” says D’Oliveira. “People still talk about Lloyds from many years ago,” he says, referencing the authentic delicatessen that was an East Side fixture until it closed in 1990. “We’re baking our own rye bread, challah, everything, in the traditional, old-school way.”
The Maven’s staff spent months at food incubator Hope & Main in Warren where the chefs had the opportunity to work out a variety of menu items. “Authentic yet modern means staying within the notes and style of the food, but opening it up,” explains Sugarman. “We’re going to stay within the tradition, but we want it to be for everybody.”
With a large and diverse menu, Maven’s has appeal well beyond the local Jewish community. “I’m always surprised at how many cultures enjoy cured meat,” says Sugarman. “Salami, turkey – how about corned beef; it’s Irish, but it’s also Jewish. Jewish culture has always been multinational. One of the early Jewish ghettos was in Italy. There’s a lot of cross-pollination between dishes. You’ve got German foods, Polish, French – a lot of stuff that overlaps. But we’re not going to have brisket tacos on the menu,” he says with a laugh.
Additional menu items include Israeli salads, soups, and sandwiches. Traditional mayo-based salads like whitefish, tuna, egg, and salmon will be available regularly, as well as bakery classics, like blintzes, rugelach, and kugel. The restaurant can seat over 100 diners, and features 18 feet of deli cases, with monthly specials, weekly Shabbat dinners, and seasonal items. The space is open and bright, with booths, tables, and a breakfast nook along the front window – much built in Providence by Edge and End – along with tile throughout that resembles the half moon cookies they serve. Sugarman plans to provide catering as the business ramps up and there is talk of opening “Little Maven’s,” additional locations that would focus on products like deli sandwiches.
A charming add-on for the young and young-at-heart is the classic comic books available at the counter. And don’t forget the pickles. At a recent tasting, the staff served three varieties – sour, half-sour, and pickled green tomatoes – and promised more varieties to come!
727 East Avenue, Pawtucket • MavensDeli.com
Open daily 7am-9pm Sunday-Thursday
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