The name for Pete Sitcov’s new sandwich venture acknowledges that we could all use a little bit of positivity right now. Compliments Only, which officially opens for takeout and third-party app delivery Friday, December 11, on the lower 14th Street NW strip, comes from a phrase Sitcov would use whenever he asked for feedback on subs at his last kitchen job, layering cold cuts and “shredduce” with chef Adam Greenberg at the Crush Subbies ghost kitchen inside Coconut Club.
Sitcov, who worked at Arlington gem the Italian Store and created a line of subs named after My Cousin Vinny quotes at Yang Market before he and his wife sold the Eckington shop, says when he was trying out new combinations at Crush Subbies, he would inform tasters that he would not be accepting any negative feedback. During a public health crisis that has throttled the restaurant industry, he thinks everyone needs all the compliments they can get.
“Things have been pretty crazy this year, and a lot of unfortunate, sad, frustrating shit has happened to so many people,” Sitcov says. “Maybe if you just remember to take one second to say something nice about someone else, or what you’re eating, or what you’re doing, maybe things will feel al little bit better.”
He and Emily Cipes, the general manager at Coconut Club, needed a new place to work after the island-style hangout by Union Market became one of the earliest D.C. restaurants to temporarily close for a hibernation period during cooler months. They connected with the owner of BodySmith Gym, who had a space available at 1630 14th Street NW, where JRINK used to run a juice bar.
Sitcov says the through-line for the sandwiches on the former Yang Market menu and those at Crush Subbies and Compliments Only is a nostalgic vibe that comes from using simple, recognizable ingredients. The Teamster, his new Italian sub, has ham, capicola, and Genoa salami, along with hot and sweet peppers, onions, oil and vinegar, and shredded lettuce. There’s a Finer Things Club, with turkey, avocado, bacon, ranch, and cheddar.
More creative options include a sub built on Old Bay egg salad, and another one that mimics a nicoise with tuna salad, eggs, olives, and pickled green beans.
One new option for Sitcov is a sandwich called Ranch of Blue Cheese? Sitcov says his dad is from Buffalo, so hot wing have a close place to his heart. The sandwich comes with pulled Buffalo chicken, shaved celery and carrot, and (obviously) a choice of ranch or blue cheese.
There’s an Easter egg for fans of what Sitcov used to do at Yang Market, too. The sandwich maker nods to his favorite film with a sub called Marissa Tomei Eats Free (capicola, Genoa, salami, fresh mozzarella, basil and arugula salad, honey chili aioli)..
Compliments Only opens six days a week (closed Tuesdays) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for walk-ins, call-ins (202-794-4638), online preorders, and third-party delivery at 1630 14th Steet NW.