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Petak's Kosher Deli in Fair Lawn - New Ownership?

I went to Petak's several days ago to get a pastrami sandwich, and noticed quite a few changes. First, the store area has been switched to the area that used to be a back area of the store. Second, I didn't recognize any of the people working there. And third, not only did they jack the price of the sandwich way up from the last time I was there a few months ago, the pastrami tasted like low-end supermarket pastrami!

This deli has been around since almost the beginning of time, and I've been going there ever since I was a toddler. It was always a great place. But this last visit has me scared. Was it just an off day or are my worst fears coming true?

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  1. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like an off-day. I don't know if it changed hands recently though.

    The deli hasn't been owned by the Petak family for a while now. Scott Petak took over in the early 90's when his dad retired to FL. I don't remember when/how it changed hands though and when/how Scott got out.

    I always preferred the Kosher Nosh just down the road and around the corner in Glen Rock.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ELA

      Rumpernook was much better than either one of those Fair Lawn Delis never had a bad sandwich in over 10 years of stoping there.

      1. re: tonyv

        Long time ago...when did Rumpernook close? Was most recently Sage, and before that Campania (which closed after the tragic suicide of the chef/owner).

    2. The place was sold, it';s under new management. Only the name remains. The best NJ deli of this ilk used to be Sol & Sol in Englewood, but they are long gone. The only place for good pastrami these days is Katz's!

      1. Wow, that would be awful. I love Petak's.

        Part of the change is that the store was COMPLETELY wiped out by Superstorm Sandy; they were closed, and doing catering from an offsite location. I was there a couple of weeks ago and at least some of the help was the same.
        I didn't get any cold cuts, but their famous cranberry chicken tasted pretty good.

        6 Replies
        1. re: grandpamarian

          The Nosher Rye deli in Allendale has very good pastrami and corned beef. There sandwich with extra meat $1 is still only 10 dollars. They claim to corn their own beef and I would agree with that claim. The rye bread they use is also very good.

          1. re: wblorch

            I went there once and had the pastrami. It was "good" -- better than most I've had here in NJ. I don't remember it well enough to compare it to the Kosher Nosh (Glen Rock). But I really have to go back and try it again. Thanks.

            1. re: ELA

              Petaks? Say it isn't so. I love their Knish. They have been around my whole life. I am having breakfast today at Brunch Club and I will find out what is going on.

              1. re: Picnicchef

                looking forward to your report back. Petak's has been a FL institution forever. I, too, enjoyed many (too many) of their knish's over the years. Back in the 70's, used to go there for lunch in HS. I was one of the few non-Jewish kids to go there regularly. Another good place down the tubes.

                1. re: njmarshall55

                  Larry Petak died a couple of years ago. He was retired and lived in FL. He and his bother Herb opened the deli sometime during the 50's. Sometime in the early 90's, Larry retired and moved to FL (full time). I don't remember when Herb retired, but when Larry retired in the early 90's, his son Scott took over.

                  Now, I am not sure who owned, sold and who bought it recently -- or when. I also don't remember when Scott got out, but he moved to FL as well. I don't think any other family members remained, and the only other one I knew of was Scott's brother, David (who was still in NJ as of a couple of years ago).

                  However, the place hasn't been owned by the Petak family for a while now. I think when Scott got out, whenever that was, the place was sold. It sounds like it was sold again recently?

          2. re: grandpamarian

            I didn't know they were hit by Sandy. Actually, I wasn't sure Fair Lawn was impacted in a big way. Didn't realize they were doing the offsite thing.

          3. Petaks is still there and is still rebuilding after the hurricane. put the rumors to rest, deli still hot and the knishes fresh,

            10 Replies
            1. re: gfrubin

              The place was at its best a few years ago when they used the 2 stores, one as a "meat" side, and the other as a "dairy" side so that they could use real cream in the herring, and other things.

              P.S. I didn't know the hurricane affected Fair Lawn...(??) Are you mixing this up with a place down on the Shore?

              1. re: gfrubin

                I was there today for a pastrami sandwich. The prices went up by about 30% and it was terrible. Less meat than before and very tough.

                1. re: wblorch

                  It is not what it used to be. When Larry and Herb were there is was very good. However, even in it's day, I still didn't think it was as good as the Kosher Nosh, but that's just me. I also liked it when Scott was there...still very good.

                  But after that, in recent years, it has not been the same. For me, the Kosher Nosh is the best you'll find around. Maybe I am missing one, but if you are in Fair Lawn, take a ride down the street and around the corner and go to the Kosher Nosh. Hit the pickle bar and wait for your pastrami. LOL.

                  1. re: ELA

                    Sorry, I've Kosher Nosh pastrami and it's pretty brutal. The only thing to really do for pastrami is to suck it up, hang on, and go over to NY to either Katz or Pastrami Queen. NJ is a pastrami wasteland.

                    1. re: lemarais

                      True. But, what about Irving's in Livingston or the old-time delis in Newark?

                      1. re: cuddles115

                        It's closer from Bergen County to go to NY-- particularly Pastrami Queen on Lex & 78th.

                        I've also heard that Irving's uses brisket cut for their pastrami (BIG NO NO!) It's supposed to be navel cuts!

                        1. re: cuddles115

                          When Irving's first opened I really enjoyed it. I traveled to get there, made a partial/half day of it, and really looked forward to going. Even after eating, we'd bring home knishes and other items. Of course, while ordering, I'd have a frank to warm up, LOL. I liked the pastrami very much -- and they had other really good sandwiches there. The knishes were very good too, and some of the side dishes were also very good.

                          After a period of time, the place started to "slip" so to speak. Someone I heard said it "jumped the shark" LOL. They changed a few things, and it just wasn't as good. I haven't been back in a while, especially since some people I know and who I respect (their opinion and their tastes, likes, etc. are very often in-line with mine) said the experiences have not been as good. I also read some reviews which commented that they made changes, aren't as good, etc.

                          As far as Newark -- I got one word for you...Hobby's. LOL. I am sure there are a few other old-time deli's as you call it in Newark, but Hobby's is the most popular and well known and for my tastes it's the best you'll find in Newark. I've been to a few others and they pale in comparison. Outside of Newark, I haven't been there in a while but Deli King (Linden) seems to be popular and have a lot of followers. I liked it. Harold's (Edison) has been talked about a lot here. Check some of the other threads and do a search.


                          1. re: cuddles115

                            cuddles115 -- have you been to Hobby's? Deli King? Sorry, I wasn't sure where you were from. Thanks.

                            1. re: ELA

                              I lived in Fair Lawn a while back. My go to place was Petak's although Kosher Nosh also made a good sandwich. Then I moved to Livingston and, like you, loved Irving's. The sandwich was great. Then the place slipped big time and y wouldn't go there. Hobby's is good. But, the "king" is still Katz's. I would love a go to place in NJ. I still can't find one.

                              1. re: cuddles115

                                Agreed...there's no doubt that Irving's slipped (as you say, big time). I haven't been there in a while but I am in no rush to plan a trip to go back (which I used to do when they first opened). If I happened to be in the area, I might stop by -- as there's no other alternatives, to see how much it slipped, is it still "OK" or "decent", etc.

                                Also agreed, Hobby's is good. I like it. It's also very consistent.

                                However, there is nothing in NJ that competes with the NY "classics" -- Katz's of course is an all-time classic, as well as the Stage Deli (a sad day when they closed), and the Carnegie Deli. I was a fan of all three! For me, you couldn't go wrong with either! My memories of the three, as a child, and as an adult will always be special.

                                I went to the Stage Deli right before they closed -- primarily because I wanted to go there one last time -- and enjoyed a great lunch. About a week later I went there again for a major take-out order for a party I was attending.


                  2. I am not sure where you are from, but have you been back? I had to meet a friend in Fair Lawn, and as hard as I tried he wouldn't go to the Kosher Nosh. He insisted on Petak's. He was born and raised in Fair Lawn, was back for a few days, and hadn't been back to Petak's in many years. I gave in, LOL. Like many people in FL he was "born and raised" on Petak's.

                    We had lunch there, and he was disappointed in Petak's and so was I. I used to enjoy it. I wanted to. I was open-minded. It just wasn't the same. The pastrami sandwich was no doubt smaller as some have commented. For my tastes, likes, etc. -- the meat was "tough" -- not in the way of fatty, vis a vis tough, but more tough in texture. It was "stringy" and didn't have that flavor you would expect from the fat/content. Now, my friend didn't like it either. He went as far as saying "very little" flavor. However, the people at the next table did like their pastrami. I struck up a conversation with them and they both liked it. One preferred the Kosher Nosh and the other preferred Petak's, although they both had no problem with either.

                    I didn't pay attention to the price (sorry about that), but I've been told they are "higher" and they have raised their prices substantially. I can't confirm that.

                    Interesting point to the story -- the next day my friend went to Kosher Nosh...solo of course, LOL...and he loved it!!! We talked about it. Of course I was upset he didn't invite me, LOL. He talked about the taste, balance, flavor, etc. -- all the things I find I like. Again, this is just my tastes...the Kosher Nosh, unless I am forgetting another place, is some of the best pastrami you will get in Bergen County. Good flavor, taste, quality, prep, etc. As good as Harold's in Edison? Opinions vary, LOL. As good as NYC (Carnegie, Stage, Katz, etc. -- pick your whoever your favorite might have been) -- No! Not for my tastes.

                    I used to think the pastrami at the "old" Benny's (on Saddle River Rd.) was "good" -- but not Kosher Nosh good. It was a huge sandwich, and that may have been part of the novelty for some, but it wasn't quantity and no quality. The pastrami was "good". Ft. Lee and Englewood had a very good kosher deli years ago. The one mentioned in Allendale is good (I've been back. The pastrami was good. I'd eat it, order it again, but for my tastes it's not close to the Kosher Nosh). You might want to try that one. I don't know of any others in Bergen County. What's in Teaneck now? Noah's Ark?

                    I always say -- go and try it yourself. Some people like chocolate, some people like vanilla. You never know what someone else's tastes are. If you like it, enjoy!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ELA

                      There are no good Jewish delis left in Bergen county. Last best good one was Sol & Sol in Englewood, but they are gone. The ones down in Essex and Middlesex are far from me, easier to go to the city (where there also so few) . Katz is a real outing, gotta combine it with the Pickle Guys and the Bulk Candy shops on the LES.

                      But a quick ride in as described on a Manhattan thread, is Pastrami Queen on 78th and Lex. Great, great pastrami sandwich, great rye bread, just the right spicing, texture, and fattiness. And if you say "Dino size" when you order, they will give you 25% more pastrami! Worth the GW toll!

                      Also heard good things about another holdover, Liebnman's in Riverdale (Bronx). Never have gotten there, though.

                    2. I have not been back in years. I am coming for my Dad's 80th birthday and wanted to surprise him with Petak's lox. Any word on the quality? thanks

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: brucep

                        Skip it. For a large selection of quality smoked salmon, there's only one place in NNJ-- FAIRWAY. They also are very skilled in slicing it, which is important.