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Jul 9, 2014 04:18 PM

NanaP [Jewish deli in Boston?]

Looking for a real jewish deli on my trip to Boston. Used to go to Jack & Marion's in Brookline when a student in the 50s. Know its gone but hope someone can recommend something similar. Live in no. Ca last 20 years, you know the place where they think rye bread comes in a plastic Orrowheat wrapper and pastrami is made out of a round of beef, no fat in sight.

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  1. In Brookline, Reuben's Kosher Restaurant is ok, Michael's Deli has good quality corned beef and pastrami, and Jack and Marion's kids run Zaftigs, which is ok. Michael's is probably the best in quality but there isn't a truly fabulous Jewish Deli. Barry's in Newton/Waban is also ok.

    1. It's not a Jewish deli, but the best pastrami sandwiches are at Sam LaGrassa's downtown, weekday lunch. Michael's sells good quality meats/sandwiches and they're open weekends.

      1. Moody's Provisions and Deli, on Moody Street Waltham. The pastrami there easily bests Sam LaGrassa's, or Katz's for that matter. Some brilliant stuff there.

        34 Replies
        1. re: Silenus

          I loved Moody's pastrami the first time I had it, but have found it to be inconsistent from visit to visit. My last sandwich was far to lean and heavy on smoke flavor.

          1. re: Silenus

            "The pastrami there easily...bests Katz's." That's a pretty bold statement.

            1. re: Silenus

              I finally made it to Moody's and had their "Katz" sandwich. It's tasty and interesting, but it's not pastrami as I know it from classic New York places like Carnegie Deli, Second Avenue Deli, and Katz's. The meat was too lean, dry, and thinly sliced, and the addition of pickle relish and cheese suggests a chef who doesn't really like classic Jewish deli. I'll go back, but I'll try something else next time.

              1. re: owades

                "and the addition of pickle relish and cheese suggests a chef who doesn't really like classic Jewish deli"

                This clause confuses me. Because they do something different suggests to you that they don't really like classic Jewish deli?

                1. re: Blumie

                  Yes. Have you ever been to a Jewish deli with Jewish friends? I have, and let's just say that some of them are VERY particular about their Jewish delis, which judging by their post, the OP seems to be.

                  I love Moody's, and I love their pastrami, but it certainly isn't Jewish Deli style.

                  1. re: tysonmcneely

                    I am Jewish and have been eating Jewish deli my whole life. I have not been to Moody's, and agree that the description of the sandwich (even though it's called "the Katz") does not make it sound like a Jewish deli-style sandwich. But to say that therefore the "chef ... doesn't really like classic Jewish deli," simply because he or she chooses to do something different, is patently absurd. There's a fundamental breakdown in your logic.

                    1. re: Blumie

                      Sorry, I took a less literal interpretation of what he said. I just meant it was not in the style of a Kosher deli, rather it was their own take on it, which we are all in agreement.

                      I did not mean to imply that the chefs at Moody don't like Kosher Delis. You are right, they probably do, as this is their tribute to it. Regardless, I look forward to trying that sandwich there in the future.

                      1. re: Infomaniac

                        no. the store is not kosher, nor are the meats.

                        1. re: Infomaniac

                          Exactly. It's not a KOSHER Deli. Katz's isn't Kosher either, I don't think. Putting cheese on their pastrami sandwiches (as they do at Moodys) is a dead giveaway. But, from what I've seen from reviews of the place, it's not a Jewish Deli, it's more of an Eclectic Deli with many different cured meat options from all cultures. As such, I doubt they'd be expected to have a classic Katz's like sandwich and shouldn't be compared to that.

                          1. re: mwk

                            I haven't been to Katz's in 30 years, so I just checked their menu. They serve cheeseburgers. Not Kosher, I'd presume.

                            1. re: mwk

                              Katz's is definitely NOT kosher either.

                              1. re: mwk

                                Katz used to be a "kosher style" deii same as hundreds of other NYC delis. This meant the meat was not kosher but there was no cheese to put on it either. I ate many times there in that era which ended about 20 years ago when they caved into persistent customer requests and tourist requests. Lots of tour buses stop there so they were losing some money and had some unhappy customers who didn't get the whole "kosher style" thing

                                The era of optional cheese in sandwiches began so that people could order Reubens and the like. I am old school and get pastrami straight up on rye with brown mustard. No coleslaw in it either. Slaw is a side dish!

                          2. re: Blumie

                            While I can see MC's point that Moody's reference to Katz's in the name of their pastrami sandwich might be an "affectionate tribute," I have to assume that they think their changes to the classic deli formula are an improvement; i.e., that they don't really like classic Jewish deli in its native form. They're certainly serious and devoted enough to achieve what they're aiming for, and that isn't classic Jewish deli as I know it.

                            1. re: owades

                              I agree. Having grown up with the Jewish delis in Brookline, Mattapan and NYC, Moody's is nothing like a Jewish deli. Just because they have pastrami (and I just think it's good but not geat), doesn't make them a Jewish deli. In addition tot the places I mentioned in a previous post, there's also Charlie's in Sharon. They go to NYC every week to get their corned beef and pastrami. It's very good. In addition to that, they have a large menu made up with what you would find if you went to a Jewish deli. I haven't been to Charlie's for a year or two because Indont out that way very often. Barry's in Newton, which I mentioned earlier, is my go to place when looking for a variety of things from a Jewish deli...kugel, knishes, marble seeded rye bread, chicken soup, etc.

                              1. re: catsmeow

                                Moody's has never claimed to be a Jewish deli, and it is pretty nakedly obvious that that is not what it is trying to do. The name of its wholesale operation, stamped on every retail product label, is New England Charcuterie. It prominently displays a diagram of a pig with Italian salumi names for parts. There's house-made kimchi and lard in the retail case. It sells srichacha-flavored sopressata and Spanish-style lomo. The housemade potato chips are truffle-flavored. There's nary a kugel, kishka or knish in sight.

                                Any inference that it's aspiring to be a Jewish deli would have to be entirely on the part of a confused customer.


                              2. re: owades

                                "I have to assume that they think their changes to the classic deli formula are an improvement; i.e., that they don't really like classic Jewish deli in its native form."

                                Sorry, that's just faulty logic. That suggests that anyone who attempts a riff on a classic, or to do something fusiony, thinks that the original is flawed.

                            2. re: owades

                              Moody's doesn't claim to be a Jewish deli, and as I've noted, it is much more globetrotting in its use of techniques and flavors, drawing from many different traditions. I imagine calling its pastrami sandwich the Katz is more affectionate tribute than some kind of hubris or claim to Jewish-deli authenticity.


                              1. re: owades

                                You ordered the sandwich knowing it came with relish and cheese. If those are not things you want with your pastrami under any circumstances (and I don't fault you for that), why didn't you simply ask them to hold the relish and cheese and add whatever mustard you enjoy or have it without any condiments?

                                1. re: Gordough

                                  I figured I should try their "Katz" sandwich as the chef/proprietor prefers to make it, at least for my first meal at Moody's. (Their take on corned beef didn't sound much closer to classic Jewish deli than the pastrami sandwich.) And it's not a bad sandwich!

                                  Now that I've experienced "The Katz," I'll try something else on my next visit. I don't think their rather dry, thinly-sliced pastrami—however it might taste without the cheese and relish—would fit well in a standard rye bread–mustard sandwich, though. Having had both, I think I might prefer San LaGrassa's (overly sweet) pastrami to Moody's.

                              2. re: Silenus

                                Moody's and Katz's pastramis are two different animals, so to speak. I recently had my first Katz pastrami and loved it. It was warm, flavorful and succulent and sliced quite thickly, almost like brisket. Moody's is meant to be sliced quite thin and eaten either cold or steamed quickly. I don't feel that they can easily be compared since the styles are completely different.

                                1. re: Silenus

                                  I'm not sure about besting Katz's...

                                  The first time I tried it, fresh out of the smoker, just a sample slice, it blew my mind. Truly amazing pastrami.

                                  When I had it on a sandwich, fried on the flat top, with cheese and the weird relish/mustard I was less impressed.

                                  I think the flattop treatment "cooked" it unnecessarily and robbed some of the beefy flavor. IMHO the only treatment for a pastrami is to serve it right out of the smoker, or steam the whole thing gently and and slice right out of the steamer. When I buy a whole pastrami for a party I put it in a big Le Creuset with a can of beer, and keep on very low heat. Hand slicing is key; using a deli slicer robs it of necessary texture.

                                  Cheese... that's not kosher. I mean this both jokingly, and of course literally. Eating meat and cheese together is NOT KOSHER. But also just taste-wise, the cheese just robs the meat of it's nuance. The WAY over pungent relish mustard further obliterates the wonderful beefiness of the pastrami.

                                  Let the beautiful meat stand on it's own. Some nice rye bread, a modicum of good sharp deli mustard, you're done. You can't improve on perfection, and Moody's treatment of their gorgeous pastrami product robs it of it's wonderfulness.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    I think I will have to try Moody's pastrami that way next time. I do like The Katz, but it makes sense that that mustard/pickle relish might be clobbering something.


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Please report back on how a Moody's pastrami sandwich works in "classic" form. Perhaps they could even be persuaded to hand-slice the meat.

                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                      I love Katz's pastrami, and know exactly what you're talking about with respect to the amazing sensation when they give you a taster and you first put it on your tongue. (But the bread at Katz's is terrible, so the sandwich is not as good as it could be.)

                                      But I also like going to a place like Sam LaGrassa's, where the pastrami clearly is not as good as Katz's, and having a reuben (which, is you point out, is not kosher!). I haven't been to Moody's yet, but I look forward to going and checking out their version.

                                      1. re: Blumie

                                        I think StriperGuy was praising a sample slice of pastrami at Moody's, which makes me curious about trying a classic sandwich of it (no pickle relish, no cheese). Clearly, they are serious about their meat products at Moody's.

                                        1. re: owades

                                          I was talking about a sample at Moody's. Fresh out of the smoker it might have even had a notch up on Katz's in my book.

                                          That said, I LOVE Katz's pastrami AND the generous sample tastes they dish out.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            wow, i will have to give Moody's a try. i will ask about hand cutting it for me; I am sure that will cement my reputation for being a pain in the butt.

                                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                              I just grilled a Moody's bierwurst for lunch. With grilled onions, chopped Wickles, and mustard on a roll. Very nice, like a quality kielbasa. Go read my Improper review.


                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                Just FYI, Katz's does not actually MAKE their own pastrami. I forget who does it for them, but they get them already pickled, smoked whatever, and just plunk them in the steamer...

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  When I saw them plunk it down, I plotzed.

                                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                                    So was that "pickled pastrami plotzing?"

                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                    Here's a recent piece on the making of Katz's pastrami from Serious Eats:

                                                    Apparently, Katz's does the cure and spice rub in-house, sends the meat out (to a "subcontractor") for smoking, then they boil, steam, and slice it in-house. I don't think that qualifies as having the pastrami made for them.

                                                    1. re: owades

                                                      At this point, you sir, are picking nits.

                                    3. Jewish delis are not Boston's strong suit...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. When my friend went to Emerson, we used to go to Ken's. I suppose that no longer exists, however (I haven't been to Back Bay Boston since).

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: Jay F

                                          ken's was a jewish deli? i don't think so...

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            Really? It was deli enough for me. Maybe just not Jewish? I probably ate there five times, all in 1973.

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              Are you maybe thinking of Ken's Steak House? There was also Ken's Deli on Boylston, which certainly fell within the "Jewish deli" category.

                                              1. re: Allstonian

                                                Ken's on Boylston is what I am talking about. We used to walk from my friend's dorm at 100 Beacon Street.

                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                  quite possibly, but i haven't been to that. was there a ken's steakhouse within boston?

                                                  sorry to jay if i am mixed up.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    Nope, Ken's Deli, in Copley Square. In the space that is now Vlora, I believe, or in any case on that block.

                                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                                      Ken's deli was in the Vlora space but closed in the 1980"s, I'm pretty sure. Hasn't been around for ages.

                                                      Wasn't Ken's Steakhouse (of the salad dressing fame, I think) in Framingham?

                                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                                        Ken's has to be long gone, because Vlora has been there for years, it was a Korean place called Friends for years before that, and it was a Chinese place called Mr. Leung's (from the guy who went on to open Bernard's) for years before that.


                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          Kens in Copley Square was a fair (at best) deli rhat had late night hours and has been closed for 30 years.

                                                          Kens steak House still exists on Route 9 in Framingham and should have been closed 30 years ago.