Burt describes Rappy’s, which will be his fifth South Florida concept, as a "soulful Jewish deli-inspired restaurant." Currently slated to open November 2016, the establishment will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offer catering as well as a full service 24-seat bar. A 30-foot deli take-out area will provide customers with the chance to order virtually every item on the menu.
Rapoport, a third-generation restaurateur, has harnessed his childhood experiences growing up in a New York Jewish restaurant, owned by his grandfather and then father for over 50 years, to create a one-of-a-kind "delica-restauran-tessen."
Reinventing classic Jewish cuisine has become a growing national trend for young chefs and restaurateurs. In NYC, Mile End Delicatessen has given modern deli fare a Montreal twist with its new-school smoked meat sandwiches. Chef Micah Wexler, a veteran of Tom Colicchio's Craft, now slings impeccable pastrami sandwiches at his eponymous Wexler's Deli in Los Angeles. Shelsky's of Brooklyn has updated cured fish and meat for what chef-partner Peter Shelsky has dubbed a "Jew food renaissance."
Although New York often gets the deli cred, South Florida has a longstanding Jewish food tradition of its own with iconic restaurants like Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House. Since Wolfie's closed in 2008, a new crop of modern delis has started to emerge, the first of which, Josh's Deli by Joshua Marcus, debuted in Surfside in 2012. Elliot Wolf of Be Nice Restaurants (Coconuts, Foxy Brown, Red Cow) opened Top Hat Delicatessen in Fort Lauderdale last year.
Named after Rapoport's father Ray, Rappy’s will be a deli-restaurant for the modern world. Ray, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 83, owned and operated Rapoport’s Restaurant, a well-known kosher eatery on Second Avenue in Manhattan, for close to 50 years.
Over the years, Ray often contributed recipes to the Sun Sentinel's “You Asked for It” column, including how to make Kichel (Jewish cookies), chicken soup, stuffed cabbage with sweet-and-sour sauce, cabbage borscht, knishes, matzo balls, and kreplach — all popular Jewish dishes. Today, his legacy lives on at Burt's newest establishment, which pays homage to his father by using his longtime nickname used by friends and family, Rappy.
"Opening a restaurant concept that offers soulful Jewish-style cuisine takes me back to where it all began growing up in my family’s restaurant," says Burt Rapoport, president of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group. "Rappy's truly signifies my life and my career coming full circle."
The Rappy’s menu will feature many classic Jewish deli dishes as well as contemporary interpretations on popular deli favorites. These include signature house-smoked pastrami and corned beef, classic chicken-in-a-pot and stuffed cabbage, a variety of gourmet hot dogs with housemade mustard, and traditional malts and shakes as well as freshly baked desserts.
Designed by Manhas Designs, one of the region’s leading restaurant and hospitality design firms, the 4,300-square-foot restaurant will seat 160 indoors and on the covered alfresco patio. The restaurant will showcase traditional deli design features such as vintage subway tile, chalkboard menus, stained concrete flooring mixed with stainless steel, ambient lighting, modern wood design elements, and creative branding. Rappy’s will also feature a spacious indoor/outdoor bar area, complete with a creative craft cocktail menu and an assortment of boozy milkshakes.
Rappy's. 5560 N. Military Trl., Boca Raton; rappysdeli.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.