Since opening near Mount Vernon Triangle in 2012, Carving Room has become one of the top places in the city to sample house-cured deli meats. At Oded Weizmann’s months-old sister spot, CR Noma, the Israeli-born owner is expanding his culinary scope with nostalgia-inducing Middle Eastern meatballs, bright veggie dips, and oven-baked flatbreads.
Along with importing core menu items from the original — think pastrami, 100-percent brisket burgers, and fried Moroccan “cigars” featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives — Carving Room’s stylish new sister (130 M Street NE) introduces four types of k’tzitzot, or traditional Israeli meatballs that Weizmann’s Moroccan parents used to make. Rockfish and whiting balls, packed with cilantro, cumin, and Moroccan red sauce, “was a Friday night dinner and holiday staple,” he tells Eater.
The cavernous 3,000-square-foot restaurant introduces diners to other Middle Eastern flavors not frequently found in Washington, like olive oil infused with garlic and anchovies that’s drizzled across flatbreads made in a domed, tile-lined oven in the back.
“I am amazed how many people have not special requested to leave it off,” Weizmann says. “Allergy aside, if you didn’t know and you were like, ‘I don’t like anchovies,’ and I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know,” he says.
The industrial-chic restaurant, nearly two years in the making, sits at the foot of an apartment complex next to the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro stop. Weizmann was attracted to NoMa for its “nice blend” of apartment buildings and businesses that remind him of his time living in New York.
“We’ve always wanted to open multiple restaurants — we got to the point we felt established over [at Carving Room] and we felt comfortable enough to branch out,” he says.
Having a new location just a mile away lets Carving Room double as a commissary kitchen. Meats cured at the flagship get transported to CR Noma so they can serve as a base for sandwiches at lunch.
CR Noma expands on Carving Room’s list of appetizers with an opening lineup of Sephardic dips and salads. A version of its top-selling roasted beet dip (pequin chile pepper, yogurt, honey, feta, and goat cheese) appears alongside chicken zucchini meatballs.
Here are some of Weizmann’s favorite dishes on the new menu at CR Noma:
Slow-roasted ribeye flatbread
To prep the topping for this featured flatbread, Weizmann takes time to “really, really, really” slow roast whole rib roasts. The meat lover’s pie brings in provolone, garlic, thyme, onions, and a squirt of pickled serrano harissa to go with that fish-infused olive oil. The ribeye flatbread also makes an appearance at brunch as a spin on steak and eggs. “We crack some runny eggs over it and run it in the oven,” Weizmann says. The meat could soon shine on its own as a “super juicy” slow-roasted ribeye entree.
The lamb rib flatbread is also inspiring another potential future order. The braised meat gets pulled off the bone and goes back in the oven, resulting in an “awesome crispiness” that would work well for arabe style-lamb tacos. Weizmann is experimenting with his new domed oven by by making rotating summer flatbreads topped with roasted cauliflower or Old Bay shrimp, corn, and avocado.
The newest meatball dish on the menu comes with three pork-and-brisket spheres swimming in a roasted tomato poblano sauce alongside parmesan and basil. The meatball trio works as an individual order or an appetizer for a group. Some early customers are portioning out meatballs onto small plates. “I think inevitably, people share — whether they intend to or not,” Weizmann says. Meatballs also go into sandwiches at lunch.
Lower East Side Charcuterie
Weizmann came up with the idea to do a dinnertime charcuterie board that pays tribute to his New York roots during his early morning routine of slicing corned beef and pastrami at Carving Room. The board is built with the second cut of corned beef brisket, called the deckle. “It has these ribbons of fat that reminded me of charcuterie,” he says. “It’s just done with different flavors. It’s the same concept and idea.” He pairs the pastrami and corned beef with slices of cured and smoked duck. “Which you may not find in the Lower East Side when they were doing this in 1930s, but this is kind of a little twist on it,” he says. There’s also manchego cheese and house pickles.
Boozin’ and Juicin’
The solidified star of the cocktail menu, this drink mixes freshly squeezed watermelon juice with a base of lemon and basil-infused vodka. It’s finished with a fresh basil leaf. The cocktail menu also includes a draft “Sexy Mexi” — full of tequila, mezcal, ginger, hibiscus, and lime — and the “Love & Pride,” which blends rum from nearby distiller Cotton & Reed with fresh pineapple juice. There are also 15 beers on draft and a dozen wines by the glass. Happy hour, which is consistently packed across its sun-drenched, blue tile bar, runs from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. It includes $7 wines and $2 off select beers.
Brunch is slowly rolling out, featuring the cereal-encrusted challah French toast, topped with vanilla bourbon syrup and raspberry sauce, that’s a hit at the OG location. There’s also a house-cured salmon board with all the lox trimmings.
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