A Whole Lotta Deli and All the Weekly Dish

A Pancer’s Pastrami on Rye. Photo courtesy of Pancer’s Original

Here’s everything you need to know about restaurant openings and closings, chefs on the move and tasty events happening in the world of Jewish food.

….“The new owners couldn’t cut a sandwich for love or money. The last sandwich I bought here before today was an absolute tragedy. It fell apart.” That’s what one regular told the National Post about the entrepreneurs who bought Toronto institution Moe Pancer’s Deli from its founding family in 2010 — and managed to kill it by January of this year. But there’s a happy ending: Moe’s grandson, Lorne Pancer, has reopened the deli as Pancer’s Original — and relieved regulars are flocking back to the North Toronto location. “Deli is our trademark,” Pancer told the paper. “We will never let this place go again.”

….Another item from the Reincarnation department: Coney Island hot-dog pioneer Feltman’s may rise from the dead, according to Eater. The legendary Feltman’s, which served hot dogs to beach goers from 1867 to 1954 and trained Nathan’s Famous founder Nathan Handwerker, will reappear as a pop-up at Brooklyn bar Sycamore on May 28. Feltman’s namesake Charles Feltman wasn’t Jewish, but Nathan’s arguably wouldn’t exist without him.

B&H Dairy Kosher Restaurant before last month’s Lower East Side explosion forced it to close temporarily. Facebook

Second Avenue’s B&H Dairy Kosher Restaurant, which has been dark since the devastating East Village gas explosion, has surpassed its $20,000 goal in a crowdfunding campaign on micro-giving site Smallknot. Egyptian-born Fawzy Abdelwahed has owned B&H Dairy since 2003, “but the restaurant was originally opened in the late 1930s by a Jewish man named Abie Bergson and his partner, one Mr. Heller,” according to the JPUpdates blog. Abdelwahed’s barely touched the very old-school Jewish menu, though — think latkes, knishes, blintzes and challah. Here’s hoping B&H sticks around a long time.

Moishe’s sign, in need of repair. Photo courtesy of Moishe’s

….Word to lovers of hamentaschen and other heimishe baked goods at Moishe’s, the beloved East Village bakery: Don’t panic. The store’s classic yellow-script sign may be gone, but it’s just down for repairs. Eater reports a recent complaint filed with the Department of Buildings led to an Environmental Control Board violation for “failure to maintain front facade.” The exterior of Moishe’s hasn’t been kept up in recent years, leaving graffiti all over the storefront and windows…

….Upper East Side fancy-foods czar Eli Zabar will expand his empire once again with Eli’s Essentials Wine Bar, which opens April 28 on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Look for “seasonal small plates” from Chefs Michael Gutowski and John Carr; the wine list “will feature a rotating selection from their extensive Old World wine cellar, which is also shared at restaurant Eli’s Table and Eli’s List wine shop on Third Avenue.”

….“The concept of deli has gotten so elastic, a delicatessen is any place that sells food. In New York, any bodega. In Philly, any kind of corner… what do you call that? The word has no meaning anymore. Just like pastrami.” – Dickinson College professor of Religion and Forward contributor Ted Merwin carps about the assimilation-related decline of deli in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

….“For nearly four decades, Betty Rein was the public face of Rein’s New York Style Deli, a Vernon restaurant praised even by true New Yorkers,” writes the Hartford Courant. Strategically situated off I-84 in Vernon, Connecticut, “it became known as the place for locals and travelers en route from New York to Boston to get Nova, knishes or an outstanding pastrami sandwich.” Rein, who died this month, and her late husband, Robert, founded the deli in 1972, “to bring good Jewish food to Connecticut,” daughter Bonnie Shebat said. Their kids, along with 150 employees, now run it. “Where else in the region can you get a good pastrami sandwich, gefilte fish, chicken matzo ball soup and real sour pickles?” customer Harold Schwartz asked the Courant. “It’s the real deal.”

….Okay, so this isn’t technically a food item. But how can we resist writing about a Jewish rapper — with dual U.S./Israeli citizenship, no less — called Kosha Dillz? Apparently, Dillz, who was born Rami Even-Esh, learned this week that his website had been “hacked by ISIS after he released his video for No More War, inspired by his take on violence in Israel and Gaza, according to HipHopDX.com.

Kosha Dillz.

So how did he pick the, um, piquant name Kosha Dillz? “I literally got it off the jar at the supermarket,” Dillz told L.A. Weekly. I knew I was a Jewish rapper and that’s what I wanted to represent at the time, and it was completely ridiculous. I entered famed New York rap battle Bragging Rites as ‘Kosher Dill’.”

Michael Kaminer is a frequent contributor to the Forward.

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