Rob Bock, Broadside Correspondent

About six months ago, I went to Bernie’s Delicatessen on Chain Bridge Road in search of a delicious meatball sandwich. SubConnection and Gold Rush weren’t cutting it anymore, and I had heard good things about Bernie’s from my roommate.

So I went in and $7 later, I ate one of the best meatball subs I’ve ever had.

The soft, fresh Italian bread perfectly held the provolone cheese, the sweet marinara sauce and the delicious meatballs in place.

On that day, I swore to return to Bernie’s to see if they had anything that could top my meatball sub experience.

Turns out, they do. I had a chance to speak with Bernard Socha, owner of Bernie’s Deli. After having co-owned Wagshal’s Deli in Washington, D.C. for around 20 years, Socha and his family opened Bernie’s Delicatessen and Gourmet Market two years ago to work closer to home. Business has been picking up slowly but surely since then, and for good reason.

Turns out Bernie’s cooks its own corned beef, roast beef and roasted turkey every day, in addition to fresh potato salads, bread and desserts made daily without preservatives.

When I asked Bernie himself what I should order, he told me, “Anything with meat.”

The first thing I sampled was the “Mom’s Potato Salad.” I really noticed the lack of preservatives in this, having eaten grocery store potato salad all my life. It was surprisingly rich and flavorful, and the crumbled bacon bits and cheddar cheese on top were a nice touch. If you like potato salad, you’ll love this.

Next, I tried the Italian cold cut sandwich. Since this sandwich had three kinds of meat on it, I was eager to see if it would stand out. Turns out it did, but not for the reason I originally thought.

Of course the Capicola ham, hard salami and peppered Italian ham made the sandwich tasty, but the sweet peppers added a sweet, fun taste to the salty meats and cheese to push the sandwich from “good” to “great.”

After this, I decided to move to the dessert counter to try something even sweeter. My eyes settled on an Oreo brownie, and I tried it out. I’m sure nearly everyone’s found their perfect brownie before—soft and chewy and chocolatey and delicious—so I’m just going to let you know that I found my perfect brownie at Bernie’s. And it was heaven. The white “Oreo” layer in the middle was a wonderful touch.

Surprisingly, I ate something better that day. After the brownie, I tried to eat one of the more meat-packed sandwiches, just to see how right Bernie really was. I settled on a Reuben, a sandwich commonly found at delis, usually made of corned beef, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on toasted rye bread.

Bernie wasn’t lying. The sandwich was phenomenal. This time, all the credit went to the corned beef.
I have no idea what Bernie’s does to make its beef so great, but I don’t really care as long as I can keep going there to order Reubens.

The only problem I had with the sandwich was its size. It was a quarter pound of meat on a small rye bread sandwich. It may sound like a lot, but as a hungry college student, I was left wanting a little more. Luckily, you can ask for extra meat, but it’s another $2. I’d probably recommend this.

I left Bernie’s feeling extremely satisfied. The prices were a little more than what you can get in the on-campus cafeterias, but for the increase in quality, it’s totally worth it.

The only real fault I had with the restaurant was its hours. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday are okay for commuters, but for college students, later hours would be awesome.

Don’t let that ruin Bernie’s for you. When it’s open, Bernie’s is easily one of the best take-out places around.