With the lineup of the much-anticipated “Obsessed” episode of No Reservations now out (Tony will visit Kampuchea, Co., Esca, Pat LaFrieda Meats, Minetta Tavern, Txikito; his tablemates will include blogger-types Steve Plotnicki, Steve Shaw, and Josh Ozersky; and you can check out Tony butchering a pig in the clip), the latest Travel Channel mystery becomes: Who will win the pastrami episode of the new show Food Wars: Katz’s or 2nd Avenue Deli?
We called the big-ups at each deli to find out who won the taste-off that recently took place at the Delancey (the panel of judges included a Katz’s fan, a 2nd Avenue Deli fan, a Jets player, a man-on-the-street type, and just one food expert, Sarah DiGregorio of the Voice), and of course nobody would spill the chili beans. We’re told the episode won’t air till April (the Travel Channel hasn’t announced a date), but we’re pretty sure Katz’s took the prize.
Manager Jake Dell (son of owner Alan) told us, “Whoever it was — the better deli won.” And it’s quite clear Dell thinks his is the better deli: “I truly believe there is no competition between the two of us — we’re the experts. We have our own process for cooking the meat till it’s so juicy and tender that you can’t use a machine to slice it, you have to carve it by hand.”
We’re thinking the 2nd Avenue Deli’s thinner, machine-carved pastrami had to settle for silver (“I think we have a great product and we really put out a great product for the competition,” is all owner Jeremy Lebewohl would tell us), but here’s consolation for fans of that fine establishment: Lebewohl says construction of the new location at the corner of 75th and First Avenue is “moving along very nicely,” and he hopes to open within six to nine months. Don’t expect hand-carved pastrami at the new location: “If there will be any differences they’d be minor.”