When I think deli, I think New York. For about two years I lived in New Jersey and worked in New York City (I have to clarify because if you say you live in NYC but actually lived in Hoboken, people tend to get a little angry), and while I lived out east I began to really appreciate an authentic deli.
The words ‘authentic deli’ to me mean a wide selection of meats hanging from the ceiling or proudly displayed under glass, huge tubs of mayo, all the macaroni salad I can eat, and about 5 different mustards I can choose between.
Lately though I’ve noticed a new generation of delis beginning to open up. These aren’t your typical delis with the checkered tablecloths – they are more upscale restaurants on top of new menu trends. Where in a traditional deli you might order at the counter and take your sandwich to go, these new delis are a traditional dining experience. They are chic and upscale restaurants that serve modern twists on traditional deli traditions – like Dillman’s in Chicago that serves beef shortrib borscht with a crème fraiche and bone marrow. Or DGS Delicatessen in Washington DC, which serves chopped liver with a red onion marmalade & gribenes on a rye toast, or the matzo ball soup with duck schmaltz matzo balls. Obviously not entirely traditional!
More often than not these places are also going to follow the trend of local and sustainable – like Mile End Deli in New York who serves kugel, but it might be made with sunchokes from a local farm when they are in season. Local and sustainable aren’t often a traditional deli’s defining characteristics making these new generation delis stand out even more.
Just like the traditional pub turned the upscale gastropub, we are beginning to see this with upscale delis. And I have to say I’m a fan of the trend!