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Mo's Bagels, Mo' Munching: Izzy & Mo's Luncheonette

The offerings at Izzy and Mo's Luncheonette harks back to
owner Magdiale Wolmark's Jewish upbringing in Philadelphia. 
I'll admit to being very late to the bagel game; in fact, I didn't have any concept as to what a bagel even was I was well into my college years. And like many who were long-time residents of the Bay Area, my first regular go-to place for such an item lay in Noah's Bagels, essentially the west coast branch of the Einstein Bros. Bagels chain. Their bready constructs were perfectly fine slathered with cream cheese or as a quick breakfast sandwich, but I learned eventually that these were nothing like the traditional and fabled versions available in cities like Montreal and New York.

I have not had a bagel from either of those metro areas, but I've found that Columbus has a pretty solid core of local bagel purveyors. We've utilized the awesome home delivery service of Sammy's New York Bagels (my spouse, who has had the real deal in New York, says they do about as close a rendition as you can get here in Columbus.) quite a bit, and we have also enjoyed the varieties offered from the East Columbus based Block's. The unique gourmet variations from the farmers market oriented Companion Baking have also proven to be a worthy culinary pursuit. And recently, the choices have grown more diverse with the recent arrival of Izzy and Mo's Luncheonette, the latest venture from Till Restaurant owners/husband & wife team Magdiale Wolmark and Cristin Austin.

The Izzy Bagel, featuring caviar, cream cheese, gravlax (cured salmon)
and hot sauce, came with a deviled egg on the side
When the duo closed operations on his well-regarded vegetarian-oriented Dragonfly Neo-V at the end of 2011 for more the more locavore focused Till Dynamic Fare, a gourmet donut shop was foreseen for the small space next to their main eatery. But as the time went on (Till opened up to much praise in 2012, earning Best New Restaurant honors from Columbus Underground) and the space remained idle, the concept grew into something more expansive. Both Wolmark and Austin began delving more deeply into the roots of the foods Wolmark grew up with as a child in a Jewish household in Philadelphia, PA. By the time Izzy and Mo's (a nod to Wolmark's parents' nicknames) finally opened up their doors in May of 2015, the finished concept was more along the line of a Jewish deli.

Living up to its luncheonette designation, Izzy & Mo's compact
interior brings its food offerings even more to the fore for the diner
Indeed, there's not really much space within Izzy & Mo's space - the counter space holds whatever baked goods the deli is selling, with a few seats scattered about for inside dining (when the weather is warmer, the patio space outside neighboring Till can be used.) A couple stylized posters with Izzy & Mo's branding dot the walls along with a chalkboard touting their specials for the day.

All items are prepared next door in Till's kitchen space, so if you're in house long enough, you'll see a kitchen staffer running various food creations from there into Izzy & Mo's service space through the front door. If nothing else, these freshly prepared items, from hot bagels to steaming corned beef to luscious sweet treats, whets one's appetite even more as you're waiting. During the busier days, some things will temporarily "sell out" of an item at various times during the day due to preparation time until they actually do sell out, a good sign in itself that things are bustling here more often than not.

Jersualem Bagel with Lentil Pate and pickled vegetables
Suffice it to say, we have been quite pleased with what we've had so far at Izzy and Mo's. The standard bagels have that sufficient chew and crisp to them, and the salmon, whether gravlax or kippered, has been my spouse's favorite get here. The Jerusalem Bagel was also a pleasant diversion, something of a mix of the more bready bagels (indeed, these bagels are not boiled before baking) I first became familiar with and a French baguette. They were perfect lighter fare combined with this eatery's versions of hummus or lentil pate. Based on that steaming tray of corned beef that wandered into our senses on the last visit, future ventures to the luncheonette will be focused on items like the Reuben sandwiches or the Corned Beef special, advertised as a shaved corned beef coleslaw with Russian dressing and rye bread.

As far as sweets, Izzy & Mo's does have donuts in the form of the Israeli version of a jelly donut in the sufganiyot as well as an assortment of rolls, blintzes and babka. The babka proved to be delightful, lightly sweet treat laced with just the right amount of chocolate and cinnamon.

Left: Izzy & Mo's Iced Tahini Mochas have won us over
Right: Sufganiyot donuts at the ready on the counter
Thunderkiss Coffee is the java of choice here; also noteworthy is one of the more uniquely enjoyable iced drinks in the Columbus metro. The Iced Tahini Mocha did not sound appealing to me at initial reading (uh, tahini?!) but my spouse, not usually the type for sweeter coffee drinks, was intrigued enough to bite.  One sip of her drink was enough to convince me as well, and this has become a must have on future visits to this eatery.

Izzy & Mo's Luncheonette
249 King Ave (Dennison Place)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 298-9986
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Izzy & Mo's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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