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Mar 14, 2008 11:59 AM

New Kosher Option in NC

The following is from an e-mail from an acquaintance. I believe the restaurant in under the supervision of Chabad in Wilmington. I am not warranting anything, just passing along some info....

Yesterday, our family took a trip to the closest Kosher restaurant to Raleigh – in Wilmington, North Carolina. We were extremely impressed. Owner/Chef Shai Shalit has actually operated his Moroccan Café for three years. When Chabad of Wilmington moved to the area around six months ago, he decided to switch over to a Kosher restaurant so now a kosher restaurant is less than two hours away and can be combined with a nice day at the beach. Everything is freshly made and delicious. We started with homemade pitas and the hummous and matbucha appetizers. Matbucha is a delicious dip that contains roasted tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, chili and bell peppers. It is spicy and very tasty. By the time the sandwiches came, we were stuffed, but I still managed to wolf down a wonderful lamb kabob in a pita with a side of couscous. My wife was equally impressed with her chicken sandwich. We were served by Shai himself and he was extremely friendly and accommodating. They also have hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken nuggets for the kids. Finally, the restaurant had a nice ambience, something you don't always get in kosher restaurants. The artwork and décor fit the cuisine. So next time you are planning a trip to the beach, stop by Shai's place. For more information, check out their website at

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  1. When I read new Kosher option in Wilmington I was so excited I've lived here for 16 years (orig.from NY) and missed my kosher deli but apparently your idea of kosher is different from mine. When I think Kosher it's a bigger than life hot pastrami or corned beef sandwich on rye (not a commercail deli meat, the real deal), a potato knish, pickles and slaw. Maybe a matzo ball soup or kosher frankfurters with all the trimmings and a cream soda
    Oh well my quest is still on..................

    12 Replies
    1. re: ev2008

      I agree with Rocky-cat, my “idea” of a Kosher restaurant is one that not only confirms to the Jewish dietary laws (aka kosher laws), but is under the supervision of a recognized religious authority. And, not what has been referred to as a Jewish Style or Kosher Style deli, where none of the kosher dietary laws are followed and would even serve sandwiches that contain both meat and cheese on them (the biggest no-no next to bacon).

      Hats off to the owner of nagila café for having the balls to take a successful restaurant, increase his food costs by using only Glatt Kosher meats, and then close the restaurant during the Jewish Sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) the nights when he should be making the bulk of his money. I wish him all the luck in the world, for doing what he believes is right.

      1. re: chazzer

        I realize what you are saying but I'm from New York and the Jewish Deli's there are "Kosher" and all that Kosher refers to. I and all of my Jewish friends frequented these restaurants and have for many years apparently you haven't eaten at Ben's In New York you'll have the best "Kosher" pastrami and hot dogs and knish and kugel and matzo ball soup and brisket you have ever had I guarentee it.

        1. re: ev2008

          In NYC (and other large metro areas) you will also find non-deli venues which are Kosher. Kosher is a following of specific dietary law. The food can be Jewish deli style, Indian, French, what have long as it follows dietary law. Jewish food encompasses a much wider spectrum than just deli food...Jews have settled all over the world, and food traditions reflect that.

          It is great that you had the opportunity to enjoy the culinary mecca of NY! For people who have kept Kosher in other regions for generations, something like this place is significant...I remember accompaning my grandmother on her monthly 16 hour round trip drive to obtain Kosher meat. And that was the closest location available at that time! She would be amazed that a Kosher chicken can now be had easily from her neighborhood grocery. Different experiences garner different perspectives!

          Heck, even in NY it is getting harder to find a Kosher (dietary law) deli. Look at how many dairy places have closed over the last 15-20 years...Restaurants reflect demographics, as they change, so will the variety of restaurants offered.

          1. re: ev2008

            First, I have eaten at Ben's, there is one in walking distance from my mom's place. It is o.k., to put it in southern terms saying ben's is best is like saying Smithfield Bbq is the best BBQ in NC. I have been served a microwaved knish by Ben's a sin against delis of old, and my wife's matzo ball soup and brisket and award wining kugel (1st prize at NC State Fair) is much better then Ben's I will happily eat there but not jump for joy like I would have for the old 2nd Ave deli, or even my old neighborhood deli.

            Second, many of the "Jewish" Delis in the New York area are no longer Kosher. Lets face it Kosher Meat is more expensive, if they are owned by jews they must close on Friday night and not reopen till sundown on Saturday. it does not make business sense in many neighborhoods.

            1. re: chazzer

              I admit I've been living in the South for many years and haven't been to Ben's in quite awhile but it was always great and "kosher" it's hard to believe it changed? in any case I've eaten in enough "Kosher" deli's in my lifetime to know what's good and what's not...........Sorry you didn't have a good experience at Ben's you are one of the few.

        2. re: ev2008


          Kosher is not an "idea", its a specific set of dietary rules. You are confusing Kosher food with Deli food. While there is some overlap, they aren't the same thing.

          1. re: carolinadawg

            carolinadawg you are so right. I've been to great kosher Indian restaurants in nyc. They were vegetarian and certified by a rabbi. Frankly I loathe deli. The best kosher restaurant I remember was a Moroccan one. great cuisine.
            Guys this is North Carolina! enjoy it; we have superb food, so fresh, we're a food mecca :embrace the South and Southern cuisine.

            1. re: Rory

              Glory in NC/Jewish-style cuisine!

              The Spouse has created what he calls "Pig-Pickin' Chickin (sic)" which is chicken treated just like a pig at a pig pickin', ie: split down the back, seasoned with the same rub, mopped with the same mop, and cooked low and slow on a pig cooker. Tastes awesome! While not techincally kosher since the cooker wasn't kosher, there's no reason it couldn't have been cooked on a separate grill.

              More kosher Q: We reheated the leftover brisket from Rosh Hashanah until it was shreddable consistency and piled it on squishy buns, barbacue-style. It would have been great with cole slaw on top, but what we had was leftover kishke. Dunno. Yiddishe hushpuppies? Still, it made a great sandwich.

              Embrace the South!

              And ev2008, I have a T-shirt from Ben's that reads, "The longer they hang, the better they taste." It refers to salami but I don't wear it for obvious reasons. Um, most of us here really do know what NY deli is supposed to be. Ben's is alright and after living in the Triangle over 10 years I wouldn't turn it down, but the best? Not really.

                1. re: tamalesfordinner

                  Maybe. Are you housebroken and do you do dishes? :-)

                  1. re: rockycat

                    of course!

                    although my husband and baby would probably miss me :-)

                2. re: rockycat

                  Let me qualify one of the best pastrami sandwiches etc. and I've had pastrami at quite a few kosher deli's one's well known and only the locals in Brooklyn and New York know but I guess it's a matter of taste.................