There's Something in the Water at New York Deli News
There's something special about New York City water that gives bagels, breads and cured meats a texture and flavor that New Yorkers know and love, agree Al and Tory Belsky, owners of New York Deli News. And as big as the city is, there may be even more New Yorkers living outside the five boroughs -- which means that while you can boil bagels in Denver or cure corned beef in Florida, the millions of New Yorkers spread across the United States will know the difference. That's why the Belskys opened their deli in Denver 25 years ago: to bring a true taste of New York to this city.
Compliments of the New York Deli News
Not just a taste, actually. Almost everything that gives the menu its East Coast appeal comes "trucked from New York," as Tory Belsky puts it. But then, they came from New York, too. Al's family owned a restaurant called the Fashion in Manhattan's garment district (a framed menu still hangs on the wall of the Deli News), where Al learned about the restaurant business and New York's iconic foods. The same private-label meat company that supplied the Fashion when it opened fifty years ago now makes corned beef and pastrami for the Belskys' Denver eatery.
That meat company once tried to open a second processing plant in Florida, but the cured meats lacked character, so they tried shipping New York water to Florida. It worked: The corned beef and pastrami were perfect. But the cost of shipping the water proved to be more expensive than just delivering the cured meats from New York. What worked for Florida works for Colorado, too, Tory says: Their meat is cured in New York City and shipped here a few times a month. "Our bagels and rye and pumpernickel breads come in from New York par-baked," she adds. "We bake them off every day. That way we get the flavor of New York and the freshness needed."
The kitchen slices the meat thin and still warm from the steamer and piles it high on those breads, starting at $10.50 for sandwiches, on breakfast plates with eggs for $11.95, and on a monster of a dish called the Stage: two fat potato latkes heaped with pastrami and corned beef and draped with Swiss cheese. At $17.95, it will easily feed two people, with enough left over for breakfast.
Of course, the Deli News is more than just a deli; open every day of the year, it's almost a second home for many loyal customers. "We must have hundreds, thousands of regulars," Al says. "We bump into them on airplanes, at Disneyworld, [on vacation] in Scottsdale." Because the Belskys want to give customers what they want, their menu has grown over the years, with dinner entrees ranging from stuffed cabbage ("Aunt Ruth's famous recipe") to a roasted half chicken to grilled liver and onions.
Although the New York Deli News lives up to its name, some Colorado has rubbed off over the years. "Everything tastes better with green chile," Al says, so the kitchen serves it by the bowl and over breakfast burritos for weekend brunch. Over time, they added more salads to the lineup and "even avocados -- we fought that one," he jokes.
In the summer of 1989, when the Deli News opened, customers wanted a real New York deli experience so badly that the kitchen ran out of food after two days. That pace kept up through much of the summer, but after Labor Day, business dropped significantly. Restaurants open with lots of buzz, Al says, "but when that buzz wears off, you have to figure out how to be a real restaurant." That's when the Belskys realized they had a commitment to hiring and training staff properly, giving them responsibilities that they could handle and treating them with respect.
Continue reading for more about Al and Tory Belsky's New York Deli News...