A new generation of restaurateurs has reinvented nearly everything about the traditional Jewish deli: At places such as San Francisco’s Wise Sons and Brooklyn’s Mile End, the sandwiches are reasonably sized; the knishes and babka are handmade; the coffee is of high quality and the counter clerk’s more likely to pontificate about the origins of kugel than snap at a customer for speaking too softly.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the deli’s staunchly urban identity. Unlike other imported cuisines, which have popped up far from the immigrant communities associated with them, deli hasn’t strayed much beyond the very biggest cities.
Nick Zukin, founder of Portland’s revered Kenny & Zuke’s and co-author of the newly-published The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home, says he doesn’t foresee thoughtful deli sweeping the nation anytime soon. Continue reading