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Jan 21, 2013 02:47 PM

Pastrami in Boston that approaches Katz's?

I'll be visiting a friend near West Palm Beach FL to whom I like to bring pastrami from Katz's in NYC. I couldn't get to New York this there any pastrami in Boston or immediate environs that comes close? Or perhaps in FLA? (Also I know I can have Katz's mailed, but it's not the same somehow) -- TIA!

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  1. in boston? nope. not even close.

    don't know about FL.

    19 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Yeah, I guess I kinda knew that must be the case. Haven't tried the options in Brookline but was holding out hope just in case they're that awesome.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I don't disagree that Katz's pastrami is incredibly good. But I think Nellio's in Lexington, as well as Michael's Deli and Sam LaGrasa's also have great pastrami and are, in fact, close. Nellio's is the closest in style to Katz's Deli. Why not bring your friend some pastrami from Boston for a change of pace? I try to stop at Katz's Deli nearly every trip I make to New York, but since you can't get there, give something else a try!

        1. re: lipoff

          IMHO LaGrasa's is good, but not even in the same universe.

          1. re: lipoff

            I agree that while nobody in Boston approaches a Katz's or a Schwartz's, La Grassa does a very respectable job with their own house-made pastrami.

            I'd successfully avoided the mostly-terrible Zaftig's for years, and another recent forced visit confirmed my belief that it has no business in any serious discussion of Jewish deli. Dreadful place.


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              La Grassa does not make their pastrami, they just give a commercially made pastrami a nice steam in house.

              I just called them and they confirmed that "someone smokes it for them" and they "cook it" in house.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Hardly anybody makes their own pastrami (including Langer's and Katz's), although I don't know if that's such a horrible offense if it's being custom-made by a vendor.

                I've stopped crying about the lack of a local deli and started getting it shipped - Langer's (my preference), Kenny & Zukes - get a coupla pounds, a loaf of excellent rye, etc to the tune of about $50 all in. Considering a sandwich at Katz's on their awful bread rings in close to $20, I'd say that's a bargain for not having to leave your couch.

                1. re: Nab

                  Katz's doesn't make their own? Hmmmm do tell.

                  Hmmmm, I like the order it route. That'll be my next pastrami binge for sure.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I seem to recall reading a credible source online some years back revealing Katz pastrami vendor but can't seem to find it right now. There is this old NYT piece that touches on the shtick (I pasted in an excerpt below):


                    And Alan Dell, who owns Katz's with a partner, Fred Austin, told me he still cures his own pastrami in the store, before sending it out to be smoked. Two weeks later, Mr. Austin expressed some surprise at that claim. Katz's pastrami, he told me, is made in Brooklyn from scratch.

                    I asked him if I could visit the place.

                    ''Only if I blindfolded you,'' he said.

                    The number of sources for real pastrami in New York may be small, but the variations in pastrami quality found in the delis that buy from them affirm the truth of Mr. Karroll's statement: how the meat is treated once it arrives at the delicatessen is paramount.


                    I should note I failed to include the shipping costs and usually minimum 2# orders. Langer's rye bread is really quite exceptional - I think par-baked elsewhere and then baked off at the deli - but for $5.50 can also be shipped and baked at home to replicate the entirety of the sandwich. Just be sure to call them when ordering and ask for your fatty pastrami un-sliced or at least hand-sliced thick (which is their default at the deli but for reason machine-sliced seems to be their default for shipping).

                    I'll have to try having Mile End's shipped in next time.

                    1. re: Nab

                      I just recently perfected my rye bread recipe starting from a Cooks Illustrated starting point. Killer stuff. Now I just need the pastramela.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        Ooooo...can you share that recipe, Striper?

                        I JUST smoked a pastrami, yesterday, and would love a good rye bread recipe.

                        (Sorry for going off-topic)

                          1. re: Monch

                            My adapted version of a GREAT Rye Bread Recipe:

                            (optional) 2/3 cup toasted rye flakes (I toast lightly in a toaster oven)
                            2 3/4 cup water
                            1 1/2 tsp yeast
                            2 TBS honey
                            3 Cups Bread Flour

                            Mix Starter and let rise for at least 3 hours, overnight is better.


                            1 1/2 cups Bread Flour
                            3 1/2 cups rye flour
                            2 TBS caraway seeds
                            2 TBS vegetable oil
                            1 scant TBS salt

                            Mix the dough ingredients with the starter and give a good knead for at least 5 minutes.

                            Let rise for 2 hours or at least til doubled.

                            Preheat oven to 425

                            Punch down, give an additional brief knead, and form loaf. Sprinkle your baking pan (loaf, round, or whatever you prefer) with cornmeal, semolina, or more rye flakes to prevent sticking.

                            Let rise for at least an hour until it starts to spread and looks bloated.

                            Slash the top and glaze the top an egg white / milk (1TBS) glaze.

                            Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then turn down to 400.

                            Then bake for another 30 minutes. This loaf really needs to bake I find so make sure the internal temp is 200 degrees when done, or give it another 10-15 minutes.


                            P.S. on my next go round I am going to skip the first sponge step entirely and just mix everything together and let rise overnight, then punch down for a final rise and bake. I think the 3 rises is totally unnecessary, but have not proven that yet.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Many thanks, Striper.

                              It's Reubens and pastrami sandwiches (home corned and smoked), on homemade rye bread, for Super Bowl!

                              My appreciation.

                              1. re: Monch

                                Dang, I'll be there at 6:00 ;-)

                                And really make sure the loaf is baked through. I took one out at 40 minutes on my old oven and it was gooey for about 1/2 the loaf.

                                The thermometer is key.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  I have had that problem, before, Striper.

                                  The probe thermometer is being unlimbered now.

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                Sounds great. Is that table salt or kosher?

                                1. re: bear

                                  The original recipe calls for table, I don't need a whole lot of salt in my bread so I probably used 3/4 TBS of kosher. YMMV.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Thanks. I'm way too attached to my salt, so I'll probably go heavy on it. I've been craving rye bread ever since I sampled Iggy's delicious bread last week at the Cambridge store, so this timing is perfect.

                                    1. re: bear

                                      Yah Iggy's rendition is pretty respectable. I'd put this recipe on par with that. Got some really nice Arrowhead Mills Rye flour from Whole Foods I think.

            2. Have a sandwich at Michael's and at Sam LaGrassa's and make your decision at that point, because you won't find anything better.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Luther

                I never liked Michaels and use to like Sam LaGrassas. Last week, I got a sandwich from the latter after not eating there for a few years. I was really disappointed. I would think there still must be a few delis in the Miami Beach area that would far surpass anything around here.

              2. You might try looking on the Miami/Fort Lauderdale Chowhound board (79). That region seems to have more New York-style delis than we do here in Boston. The well-regarded Rascal House in Miami closed some years ago, but there are a number of alternatives that people seem to recommend. I think Sam LaGrassa's probably makes the best pastrami sandwich I've found around here, but it's not really comparable to Katz's.

                1 Reply
                1. re: owades

                  Hi visitor from the Miami board who visits NYC fairly often (also used to live there) and am familiar with Katz's -- saw this thread at random. For the Miami area, up until about a 9 months ago, the answer was not even close. Then Josh's deli opened.

                  Their pastrami is so good that I don't even bother going to Katz's anymore when I go to NYC. I could not really tell you which is actually better because I would need to eat them side by side, they are that close.

                  In case you are wondering, Josh's is similar to Katz's in that he makes his own pastrami and hand cuts it. Thicker slices and jucier than machine cut pastrami.

                  Josh's is the real deal folks.

                2. no place in boston sadly. michael's buys his-- not homemade and I believe it was sold recently. my favorite, better than katz's is langers in LA. they will ship and it is delicious. you can also buy from zingermans in Ann Arbor. also a legit product. since it's steamed, it does not require fresh cut-- as it reheats well.

                  1. Its not the most convenient, but Arthur's in Chelsea brings up good quality meats from NYC. I like them better than Michael's for corned beef because they are accommodating for tastes (cutting slices with more fat if desired, even sometimes cutting from another brisket piece). Won't compare them to Katz and not as certain about pastrami, but I think they are the best overall option in Boston. If your friend is into it, I would also suggest getting some of their chopped liver which they do make their own. And you can get Katz's bagels nearby too.

                    Not far at all from the airport if driving, but you need to allow a bit of time in case you encounter the bridge up (20+ minute backup).