Smoking Hot Kosher Delis Come to Toronto and Texas

Artisan Deli for the Kosher Community Arrives at Long Last

Proper Pastrami: Ben & Izzy’s in Toronto and Mastman’s in Austin, Texas hope to return kosher deli to its roots with housemade pastrami, tongue, cholent and pickles.
Courtesy of Ben and Izzy's Deli
Proper Pastrami: Ben & Izzy’s in Toronto and Mastman’s in Austin, Texas hope to return kosher deli to its roots with housemade pastrami, tongue, cholent and pickles.

By David Sax

Published May 15, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

“I walked in, and there was this warm electric fusion going through my body,” Barnath said, likening it to the Kotel of delis.

Ben and Izzy’s is a classic delicatessen, complete with a butcher-block counter and black-and-white floor tiles. It seats 28, and all the meats are made from scratch by Venasio. There is barrel-cured corned beef and pickled tongue, navel pastrami (a rarity in Canada) and a Montreal smoked meat made with a spice mix Venasio’s been perfecting for the past five years; it’s juicy, powerfully flavorful and every bit as good as the meat from the nonkosher roots delis he and Venasio hope to emulate.

There are gorgeously marbled rib-eye steaks, matzo ball and mushroom soups, coleslaw, potato salad, double-fried French fries and, naturally, cholent, all made with beef that they specifically import from Texas, because it’s the highest-quality kosher product they’ve found.

What you won’t find are the types of concessions to mass marketing that most kosher delis have surrendered to: wraps, salads, crappy Chinese food or other diversions. “I’d sooner close down than put sushi on the menu,” Barnath said.

The two believe that Ben & Izzy’s can succeed precisely because of their DIY approach. Barnath is a certified mashgiach, so he won’t need to employ one full time, and Venasio has calculated that it’s far cheaper to make your own kosher deli meat than to buy it from someone else.

An eight-ounce sandwich will cost around $10, a price they feel will appeal not only to their kosher clientele, but also to secular Jews and gentiles, who they predict will make up the bulk of customers.

In Austin, Texas, where Dave Rosen will open Mastman’s Kosher Delicatessen this summer, kosher Jews are just a sliver of the expected diners. The city’s entire Jewish population, hovering close to 17,000, is less than one-tenth of Toronto’s, but Rosen doesn’t imagine he’ll have any problem filling the 216 seats at his downtown delicatessen, a rebirth of his grandparent’s kosher deli in Buffalo, N.Y., which closed down in 2005.

“If I’m going to continue on with the family name, it’s very important that it’s kosher,” said Rosen, also 38, who owns a successful stage lighting company.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.