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Smoked chicken tacos / Image: Leah Zipperstein, Cincinnati Refined

How One Man Turned Dilly Deli Into His Personal Kitchen (... Well, Kinda)

A few months ago, I attended the 20th anniversary celebration of a true Mariemont staple. It was for a place once famously referred to as the Dilly Deli. After 20 years strong as the village's family-friendly patio and bottle shop, this much-loved eatery now simply goes by "Dilly."

But what's in a name? Heck, I've always called it my living room, which is kinda true. Yes, I've become somewhat easy to find these days. It's nice to know you can walk a minute or two down the sidewalk and enjoy the city's best beer cheese or, my personal favorite, Reuben or B.L.T. ... And don't get me started on Wednesday Wing Night.

Yes folks, sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name. But how does one define a name like "Dilly?" What does this word even mean?

Well, to its regulars, it can be defined many ways. Two syllables: "dil" and "e" or "ee eee ee," if you're a dolphin. Some think of it as the perfect spot for al fresco dining while listening to live music. Others may choose to sit indoors at the bar and watch their hometown heroes, once again, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I, however, choose to think of it as a meeting room... a headquarters, if you will. All great sitcoms have one.

The Fonz had Al's Diner.
Norm, Cliff, and Fraiser had Cheers.
Friends had Central Perk.
And Seinfeld had that cafeteria that I can't remember the name of.

But it's nice having a location where one can meet up and reminisce about the every day absurdities of life. Plus, it doesn't hurt if that place happens to have an exceptional wine or beer list. In fact, Dilly prides itself on bringing in some of the region's best wine sellers and breweries for regular tasting events.

Most college alums will blame their alma mater for their added freshman fifteen; I blame Dilly. And part of the appeal for me is definitely the convenience. I live right around the corner. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how many of my co-conspirators — many who have made the move downtown or farther — still make the journey back to the good old tried and true. Some of them will even bring their kids along. (There's a great children's menu, btw.) Others will audition for 'Best in Show,' sitting outside with a dog-dish of water for their prize-winning Piranha-doodle or Labradoxen.

In fact, it could easily be said that the true meaning of the word "Dilly" is that there is something for everyone, and this has been the case for over 20 years now. Yes, Dilly and I have had some wonderful memories, but why stop there? From what I hear, there are some intriguing plans in store for the Dilly formerly known as Deli.

So batten down the hatches, 'cause there's much more to look forward to. And however one chooses to define the name, there will always be a friend or two that has beaten you there and will save you a seat. The more the merrier!

One mimosa, please. ... Hold the orange juice.

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Dilly Bistro, Bar & Bottle Shop is located at 6818 Wooster Pike, Mariemont (45227).

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