So What’s the Deal With Boston and Delis?

Someday. Photo: Hannah Whitaker / New York Magazine

People really want Boston to welcome a modern interpretation of the traditional Jewish deli. Many, in fact, were hoping that New Yorker-turned-Bostonian Michael Schlow would step up to the plate, but his new Kenmore restaurant is a diner (with matzoh ball soup and a pastrami sandwich, however). Alan Dershowitz, clearly a man ahead of his time, tried to open one in Harvard Square back in the 1980s, but he was more successful at lawyering. But let’s not kvetch too much.

We’ve got Barry’s Village Deli in Newton, Rubin’s, and S&S.; The Butcherie, too. And poor Zaftig’s! It’s crowded and yes, we have had a greasy Reuben there once or twice. But it’s fun and it’s been around for a very long time. Ambiance counts for something. Or Michael’s? (In fact, the Globe did a nice round-up last year of Jewish delis; check it out here.)

Would it be fun if a Michael Schlow-caliber Boston personality opened a Jewish deli? Yes! We’d also wager a latke or two that, if Schlow (or someone similar) did go for it, people would lament its authenticity and the prices. Isn’t that always the way?

Devra First suggests that a Mile End-style restaurant in Boston just might crop up eventually, which would be fantastic. Maybe, though, it’d be best if a notable chef didn’t take the reins. Big names (and big rents) could force a traditionally humble food to become overpriced. Look at what’s happening in DC: Two young entrepreneurs plan to open a craft deli in busy Dupont Circle called DGS Delicatessen. They plan to sell reasonably priced sandwiches to a new market, capitalizing on what they call a “renaissance of deli.” Hopefully, they’ll introduce a fresh demographic, unaware of the pleasures of lox and whitefish, to a storied cuisine. (Jewish cookbook maven Joan Nathan will consult.)

And in the meantime? Woody Allen once joked about eating in the Catskills: The food is terrible. And such small portions! So until our deli day comes, we should take heart: Our delis aren’t terrible, they’re not too pricy, and there are quite a few of them.

A Critic’s Predictions [Globe]

Pickles and Pastrami [BisNow]

Related: Pastrami Porn: New School vs. Old School

So What’s the Deal With Boston and Delis?