When Frank Sinatra sang "New York, New York," he encouraged attentive listeners to start "spreading the news." Well, at Royalicious Bagel Bakery in Charles Town, start spreading the cream cheese! This café/deli/bakery, which has only been open a few months, at 126 Patrick Way in the Walmart plaza, has brought a taste of New York City to the area. And Eastern Panhandle residents are loving it.
"We literally have lines forming out the door," says Julie Costantino, who helps run the place with her sister Jackie, her dad John, and her mother Cookie. She says the business is definitely a family affair. Costantino and her family come from Long Island, NY. "My father does the baking. He started working in a bakery when he was eight years old," she reveals. "History keeps repeating itself. My dad's Italian and my mom's Jewish. You get the best of both worlds at Royalicious. There really is no place like us."
The family had a store in Germantown, MD, for sixteen years. "Montgomery County had a growing population, but they still didn't have bakeries and delis offering the kind of food we do. No food was anything like we make." But, since they lived in this area, they decided to forgo the commute and set up shop locally. "We'd been called Royal Bakery but decided on changing the name to Royalicious when we moved here. Combine Royal with delicious," she smiles.
"It was one hundred percent risky moving here. So many people in this area have never had New York-style food, but we take great pride in our food and word-of-mouth spread very quickly. We love introducing people to a whole new world of food." Costantino boasts that Charles Town has welcomed them with love and support. "Everyone has been so friendly. Many of our old customers from Montgomery County still come here. When you find good food, you travel for it. Even people from up north, like Brooklyn, find us and stock up."
The first thing that strikes you when you walk into Royalicious might be how small the place is. There are only two tables that sit three people. But you're not there to sit. You're there to eat. You're there for the food—take it home, sit outside—but eat.
You walk through the front door and see a variety of cookies, pastries, breads, and spreads that instantly make your mouth water. When I happened by, the kitchen doors were open, and I could watch Costantino's dad doing his magic with Italian bread. I can attest to the fact that many of the foods offered have never appeared in this area before, just like Costantino says. Elephant ears are here, for example, which are fried pastries, and quite the treat. Other breakfast treats new to the area include chocolate cigars, cinnamon sticks, cinnamon crumb cakes, raspberry horns, and real cheese Danish.
Area residents who are fans of "Seinfeld" will find the infamous black and white cookies—with their vanilla icing on one half and chocolate icing on the other. Costantino loves introducing patrons to cannoli—tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta cheese.
You can order chopped chicken liver, a big seller in New York delis (another item not easily found in the Panhandle). Costantino says lox spread is extremely popular, as well. Lox, cured salmon, can be eaten either sliced or in spreads. A Jersey girl, raised about twentyfive miles from New York City, I found myself momentarily mesmerized at the sight of many items so near and dear to my heart (and stomach). Then I saw the wonderful baskets of bagels.
Bagel Bakery is part of Royalicious' title, after all. And, boy, were there bagels: poppy, sesame, everything onion, garlic, jalapeno, Cheddar Asiago, multi-grain, sun-dried tomato, egg, egg everything, salt blueberry, and cinnamon raisin. I ordered an egg bagel with a schmeer (cream cheese). I didn't have to explain the schmeer part since Costantino's mom is Jewish and schmeer is a Yiddish expression. The bagel was warm, chewy yet soft, and the schmeer was served in generous proportions, and needless to say, delicious.
You can also order real New York hard rolls. And to put on those hard rolls, whole-wheat marble rye, sub rolls, or even a bagel, Royalicious only uses Boars Head cold cuts. Boars Head is the leading manufacturer of premium delicatessen products. Take your pick from lean pastrami, lean corn beef, Genoa salami, Cappacola Italian ham, roast beef, bologna, roasted turkey, and deluxe boiled ham. There's also egg, tuna, and chicken salad for sandwiches.
Some sandwich combos you might consider include the Classic Ruben: corn beef piled high with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on grilled marble rye. The Craps: pastrami piled high with Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing—also on grilled marble rye. The Black Jack: roasted turkey with cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and barbecue sauce in an onion pocket roll. The Instant Spin: ham and bologna with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mayo on a sub roll.
The Roulette: roasted turkey with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on grain bread. The Super: roast beef and turkey with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mayo on country white bread. And the Big Boy Club: ham and turkey with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on toasted country white bread. And if that isn't enough, you can create your own sandwich. All the breads are made right on site.
If you're cutting out carbs, you can order a garden salad, tuna salad plate, egg salad plate, Chicken Caesar salad, or chef salad. If you're somehow not into sandwiches, try the soup of the day—in a cup or a homemade sourdough bread bowl.
Royalicious also caters. Ask for Jackie for these orders. Some platters to choose from include the Jackpot: homemade whitefish salad, nova lox, tuna (egg or chicken) salad, choice of two spreads with sliced Swiss and muenster cheese, garnished with fresh veggies (20 person minimum). The Super Slot: choose any four meats and any two cheeses, accompanied by homemade redskin potato salad and creamy coleslaw. The American Classic: a three-foot hoagie piled high with deluxe boiled ham, oven-roasted turkey, rare roast beef, American cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes—serves thirteen to fifteen people. And the Italian Classic: a three-foot hoagie piled high with spicy Cappacola ham, genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and hot peppers—also serves thirteen to fifteen people.
And for your sweet tooth, don't forget the cannoli. You can order Papa John's Cannoli Platter—a platter of mini cannoli "made from our family recipe dating back to Sicily in the early 1900s…a blend of the best sweet Italian cheeses," insists Costantino.
"People keep finding us and coming back again and again. This is super cool," she adds.
Rest assured, the Panhandle is equally pleased! To find out more, visit www.RoyaliciousBagelBakery. com. You can also give them a ring at 304-728-4663, and find them on Facebook at Royalicious bagel bakery.