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Second Avenue Deli


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I'm glad I had a chance to go one time before it closed.

It never dawned on me that it was kosher until we considered ordering the "cheesecake". The waitress who looked like she had been there since they first opened said "Sweetie, you won't like that. You'll like the cheesecake around the corner at Venerio's much better." Thanks for the tip.

Bill Russell

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Horrors! I have such fond memories of this place!

One of the best of those happened when I was an NYU student in the early 1980s. Four of us went to have lunch - Heller, Weintraub, Lippman and Rooney. The surly, alte waiter seated us and took our sandwich and drink orders. The drinks came first.

A few minutes later, he returned bearing a tray. He placed one sandwich in front of me. One sandwich in front of Lippman. One sandwich in front of Weintraub. Finally, the last sandwich, the last of the items we had requested, in front of Rooney. In a positively Woody Allen-Hannah and Her Sisters moment, he then placed a jar of mayonnaise in front of Rooney. We all burst into peals of laughter - except for Rooney, who didn' understand why he was singled out for the mayo container that he hadn't requested!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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At least we might be able to re-create some of this beauty and *geshmacht by buying and using the Second Avenue Deli Cookbook :hmmm:

contains more than 160 of Abe Lebewohl's recipes, including all of the Deli's peerless renditions of traditional Jewish dishes: chicken soup with matzo balls, chopped liver, gefilte fish, kasha varnishkes, mushroom barley soup, noodle kugel, potato latkes, blintzes,

Not the same, I know ... :sad: I weep copious tears for the place ...

* rough translation: yummy!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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What a shame and loss if they do not reopen. Quintessential New York. One of the last times I was there I took two women friends, neither Jewish, in fact, one was a nun dressed in habit. We were seated next to an African-American family that was really enjoying themselves. Next to them was a good old boy from Texas, the size of a football lineman who was devouring everything in sight and commenting loudly to the waitress about this being the first time he'd ever had this type of deli food, how much he liked it and that he'd be back on his next visit to the Big Apple. Think I was the only Jewish person in visual range, but everyone in the room was certainly fressin'.

Mark A. Bauman

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Bummer.

Whenever I went to New York with my wife, we always tried to get by the Second Avenue for a lunch. Whenever I went on a short trip to New York without my wife, I always tried to come home with a goodie bag, complete pastrami, a half-loaf of rye, mustard and pickles. Last time I did that I had to conceal to swag beneath my chair during the course of a "serious" meeting in the lobby of a swank hotel, for fear of looking tack or, worse, having to share.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Oh, no!!!

Where will I get my pastrami fix when I visit New York???

Katz's.

not Carnegie Deli? :rolleyes:

Carnegie is more known for its Corned Beef. Its pastrami is okay. I don't agree with Mimi that their meat quality is better than Katz.

I will say that Katz is more difficult to get the hulking sandwich now than it used to be. Just a few years past, if you got one of the old Jewish guys as a slicer, and you tipped him like 2 bucks, he'd give you extra meat on your plate AND feed you a slice right there on the line. "Eh, You like juicy? Cause you look like a juicy guy!". The Latino guys they now have don't seem to understand the tradition -- if you tip them, they don't do anything extra for you. They just look at you strangely and say "uh, thanks". That actually really pissed me off the last time I went. I beleive they still have a few of the old timers working there, but I just happened to get one of the new guys on the slicing line.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Oh, no!!!

Where will I get my pastrami fix when I visit New York???

Katz's.

not Carnegie Deli? :rolleyes:

Carnegie is more known for its Corned Beef. Its pastrami is okay. I don't agree with Mimi that their meat quality is better than Katz.

I will say that Katz is more difficult to get the hulking sandwich now than it used to be. Just a few years past, if you got one of the old Jewish guys as a slicer, and you tipped him like 2 bucks, he'd give you extra meat on your plate AND feed you a slice right there on the line. "Eh, You like juicy? Cause you look like a juicy guy!". The Latino guys they now have don't seem to understand the tradition -- if you tip them, they don't do anything extra for you. They just look at you strangely and say "uh, thanks". That actually really pissed me off the last time I went. I beleive they still have a few of the old timers working there, but I just happened to get one of the new guys on the slicing line.

Carnegie has been known for pastrami ever since I awarded them first prize in a city wide tasting in about 1977 altho the corned beef was great too. They no longer make both in their basement. Katz's meat though flavorful, is often full of gristle and sinews and, once slightlyt cooled, tastes awful. Carnegie's stands up much better. By the way, if you ask, Carnegie will hand slice. I think the best pastrami in NYC is at Pastrami Queen on 3rd Ave. or Lex. bet. 85th & 86th. if they are still there.

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Well, I've invited other luminaries to chime in on this one. Certainly, the city will be at a loss for losing one of its great delis, although I never thought it occupied the same legendary status as either Katz or Carnegie.

I think the whole Carnegie vs. Katz thing is very much part of New York legend -- both delis have staunch defenders on either sides. I think it depends on your upbringing. My family always ate at Katz, and its the pastrami I grew up knowing as the best in the world. By national standards, Carnegie certainly makes very good pastrami, but my grandfather always told me "Carnegie for Corned Beef, Katz for Pastrami." and thats what I've been telling everyone for as long as I can remember.

Carnegie actually makes excellent oversized knishes, particularly its Kasha knish. I always get one when I visit, and I'm lucky to be able to finish half of it, especially if I am ordering a sandwich. That requires two full cans (I so wish the old glass bottles were still around) of Cel-Ray to get down.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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While Carnegie & Katz may both be very good, neither is kosher.

Second Ave Deli is the last truly outstanding kosher deli in New York. And one of the few kosher establishments in Manhattan, period. It makes the closing quite significant if it's permanent. It says a lot about the flight of observant Jewish communities to Brooklyn and surrounding suburban areas in NY.

Plus, I'll miss their chicken soup.

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I'd be truly bummed to lose 2nd Ave permanently just because their landlords got greedy.

Just to be clear, the restaurant itself agreed to that rent increase in a lease signed many years ago. The landlord was actually willing to reduce the rate of increase, but not enough to satisfy the deli. It seems to me the landlord was pretty reasonable in this case.

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While Carnegie & Katz may both be very good, neither is kosher.

Second Ave Deli is the last truly outstanding kosher deli in New York. And one of the few kosher establishments in Manhattan, period. It makes the closing quite significant if it's permanent. It says a lot about the flight of observant Jewish communities to Brooklyn and surrounding suburban areas in NY.

Plus, I'll miss their chicken soup.

Really Orthodox Jews did not eat at 2nd Ave. It was not glatt kosher as it stayed open over Shabbas..Fri. sundown to Sat. sundown. I doubt that orthodox Jews in Bklyn, atet at 2nd Ave.

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The issue of whether 2nd Avenue Deli is "glatt kosher" is separate from whether they are open on Shabbat.

"Glatt kosher" simply means that the lungs of the animal were inspected to ensure that they are without any adhesions. It has nothing to do with whether the restaurant is open on Shabbat.

I am not sure whether or not 2nd Avenue Deli was glatt kosher or not. But you are correct that they were on open on Shabbat, which would preclude many Orthodox Jews from eating there.

Really Orthodox Jews did not eat at 2nd Ave. It was not glatt kosher as it stayed open over Shabbas..Fri. sundown to Sat. sundown. I doubt that orthodox Jews in Bklyn, atet at 2nd Ave.

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The sign is down, people.

Here's a link to the Gawker.com item, which includes this forlorn pic:

gallery_26775_1880_3506.jpg

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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The sign is down, people.

Here's a link to the Gawker.com item, which includes this forlorn pic:

gallery_26775_1880_3506.jpg

Speaking as a perhaps naive optimist, is it at all possible that the sign is down as part of the month-long renovations that were scheduled to go forward if and when Lebewohl reached agreement with his management company?

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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Speaking as a perhaps naive optimist, is it at all possible that the sign is down as part of the month-long renovations that were scheduled to go forward if and when Lebewohl reached agreement with his management company?

We-ell, if you read the Gawker items, it seems someone saw a company trucking furniture and equipment away...which could also be the result of the renovation, I guess...but I doubt it.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Sad. I used to live on the corner of 13th St. & 3rd Ave; the Deli was a regular part of my life. One of my buddies had an uncle who was one of the managers; when we were cash-strapped he used to bring us some of the best care packages you can possibly imagine. I'll miss it. Yet another NY institution falls.

Edited for spelling.

Edited by JohnnyH (log)

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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As someone who has had many meals at Second Avenue Deli over the better part of my 36 years, if this is indeed the end, it is truly, very sad. However, I do disagree with charges of greedy landlords. For one thing, as has been pointed out, the increase was agreed upon years ago, secondly, since when is it greedy to seek to obtain the highest price for your property that the market will bear? Icon or not, Second Avenue Deli is a business and in the words of Michael Corleone, this was business, not personal.

As to critics of Second Avenue's food, I do not want to get into a debate over pastrami, is Katz's better in that department? Maybe yes, but I think what gets overlooked in discussions of Second Avenue's menu is the offerings beyond sandwiches.

Second Avenue was the last place to get real, old school, Jewish cooking outside of the home and they did it well. Chicken fricase redolent with bay leaf and containing small meatballs, kishka (stuffed derma) with gravy, flanken (boiled short ribs, best served with horseradish, the Jewish version of pot-au-feu or bollito misto), pan fried kreplach served with well browned onions, cholent (Jewish cassoulet), petcha (true, there are not many people like me, who are enamored with this dish of calves feet boiled in a garlic laden broth, the meat from the feet cut up, added to the broth and the whole thing chilled to a solid, jelled block. Done right, it is delicious and Second Avenue did this most old school of Jewish dishes right) and Romanian steak, a very flavorful flank steak served with deep browned onions. Sigh...

Yes, in my opinion, to truly appreciate Second Avenue Deli you had to venture from the sandwich board. To do so was to be rewarded with dishes you would either have to make yourself, or befriend someone's bubbe to enjoy

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...I do disagree with charges of greedy landlords.  For one thing, as has been pointed out, the increase was agreed upon years ago, secondly, since when is it greedy to seek to obtain the highest price for your property that the market will bear?  Icon or not, Second Avenue Deli is a business and in the words of Michael Corleone, this was business, not personal.

Couldn't agree more. Important to remember here that Jack Lebewohl is a real estate attorney who left his practice to control the deli after his brother, Abie, was shot and killed. Not only is the stipulation for a rent increase in the contract, Jack's the one who negotiated the contract. He's allowing the joint to close with no consideration of his brother's legacy, the place's historical importance or the impact on his employees -- most of whom I'm told had very little, if any, advance warning of their impending unemployment.

Everyone -- from celebrity regulars to first-timers -- loved Abie. The verdict on Jack's been in for quite a while: He's no Abie.

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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