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Oct 5, 2008 03:09 AM

2nd Avenue Deli

I can't remember the first time I went to the old Second Avenue Deli. When I was growing up, we would make the trip in from the suburbs for that special treat and we would have our orders planned by the time we arrived. The wait was always long, even when it was cold outside, but it was bearable because my Mom an I would share a delicious hot dog, and then Abe Lebewohl would come out with a tray stacked with rye bread with thick shmears of their mouth watering chopped liver - I'm now sure how we were still hungry when we sat down, but that was never an issue.

Tonight I had a deja vu. I've been to the new restaurant and, while I never shared the harsh criticisms I have seen posted, I do believe it has shown noticeable improvements over time. But, tonight was exceptional, both for food and service. Two others waited with me for a about 15 minutes for a table, and at the moment I was telling them about the chopped liver tray of old, out came a waiter with a tray for everyone to pick at, and it was every bit as delicious as the old. The food at the table was also amazing - the pastrami had just the right amount of fat, the cornbeef was superb, and we also thoroughly enjoyed the kreplach, chicken soup, and the enormous potato knish that was big enough to share and leave over for later. For dessert, we shared an order of chocolate rugelach, which the waiter brought warm at our request. Which brings me to the waiter - I think his name was Kamal (or so it seemed from the check) - his exemplary service made our perfect meal even better, if possible. We were served with lightening speed, he checked on us numerous times, and when the busboy accidently threw out the pastrami I wanted to take home, he brought me a fresh half sandwich without skipping a beat - all with a very pleasant demeanor. At the end of the meal, we must have lingered for an extra 20 minutes after paying the check, and no one did anything to get us to leave (yes, there were a few empty tables at this point, but you know in NYC this sometimes doesn't matter to restaurant staff).

I really felt a connection to the old place tonight. Can't wait to go back.

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  1. I agree with your post...on my first visit the line was down the block but the owner was outside with that tray of chopped liver giving it out to waiting patrons...he even came over to our car and had us roll down the window so that we could share some of this treat...a few weeks later our meal at 2nd. Ave. Deli was terrific...our waitress was most accommodating...she just could not do enough for us (and the place was very busy). We also will definitely be back.
    This board always has many nitpickers and I guess they are entitled...

    6 Replies
    1. re: gutreactions

      I posted that the pastrami I had at the Second Ave. Deli was disappointingly dry even though I specifically asked for fatty. That's not "nitpicking." That's a fact! I do give praise when it's due. The chicken soup with matzoh ball was fine, the round potato knish was first-rate, and our waitress gave us excellent service. But the pastrami? Feh!

      1. re: RGR

        RGR, I agree you are entitled to your opinions. But, did you go one time or were you disappointed on several occasions? Did you ask for a different sandwich? If you haven't been recently, you might want to give it another shot. I think they have finished going their growing pains. I'd love to get your updated opinion.

        1. re: Nikki NYC

          The original was one of my favorite places to eat, ever. The few times I've eaten at or gotten take out from the new one, the food got worse with each visit.

          But if you say the growing pains are over, I'm more than willing to try it again.

          1. re: BW212

            I hope you agree with my opinion! Please let me know what you think. N

          2. re: Nikki NYC


            Our one visit to the Second Ave. Deli was during the summer -- well past their "growing pains" stage though I'm not sure what that has to do with the quality of their pastrami.

            Sarge's is only a few blocks away, and the pastrami there is excellent. So, I'm not going to waste calories on the pastrami at 2nd Ave.

            1. re: RGR

              My thought was that, perhaps, it took them time to perfect the pastrami preparation. I agree that Sarge's has good pastrami. Enjoy. N

      2. I take out food from here at least once a week and it is always great. The turkey, smoked fish and even the sides and pastry are all amazing.

        1. i went to the original only a few times....usually on christmas with my sister after catching a movie. their matzo ball soup was just like my grandmas...though i didnt care for their pastrami as much.

          when i reopened, i was dating a girl nearby and we both went. we both loved the place. wait was fine, the place was pretty clean and i had a bunch of smoked fish, soup, and an unreal chocolate babka.

          i have nothing but the highest praise for the new 2nd ave deli.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sam1

            I've been there three or four times since the relocation. Not so impressed on the first try, but we left happy every time after. Of course, if somebody gives me a little dish of gribenes, along with my pickles and cole slaw, I'm pretty much sold. And, as sam1 mentions, the chocolate babka is to die for.

          2. I want to ove the 2nd Ave Deli, I really do. Love it the way I loved it when it was on 2nd Ave.- wonderful matzxoh ball and mushroom and barley soups, terrific pastrami.

            But sadly, every time I've been to the new location I'vebeen disappointed. The soups are still good, but the pastrami is another matter. Dry, dry, dry. And even when it's not dry (and I never ask for lean) it is just tasteless- no flavor, nada. i wish it weren't so, but it is.