By Claudia Lutzky
Jewish Delis are a way of life in New York. Famous Manhattan spots where stars and politicians meet for good food have always been part of the fabric of the city. These spots are usually Kosher. That means the rules for food handling and serving were adhered to–among those rules, no meat with dairy. Huge overstuffed meat sandwiches with specialties like Corned Beef or Pastrami and Turkey with Russian dressing, pickles and a side of coleslaw (with no dairy ingredients). In Westchester, Ben’s Deli in Scarsdale is all that and more. Their New York City store on West 38th Street, opened in 1996.
It is still visited by all the New York Glitterati for good food and deal making. Fortunately, we have that same Glatt Kosher food here in Westchester. Probably, no $1M deals here, but we have the added convenience of a parking lot.
Ben’s began with owner Ronnie Dragoon, who grew up in the Deli Business, starting in the Bronx, working with his dad who eventually started Ben’s Deli on 72nd Street in the early 70’s. Ronnie realized he needed to branch out and opened his own store, Ben’s Deli, in Baldwin in 1972. Ten years later a second store was born in Greenvale and more locations in Queens followed. In 1996 Ronnie acquired the 38th street location of the famous deli – Lou G.Siegels. It is located in the heart of what once was the teeming garment district in NYC. You dined at Lou Siegels and you knew exactly what you wanted, you had it before, and you craved to have it again.
At Ben’s, in Scarsdale, the power crowd has more families with children than Fashion Moguls. They keep their customers satisfied. Hal, the Regional Manager, and Oscar, the Store Manager, give out dreidels for Hanukah. While supplies last, they have Ben’s Frisbees for kids. To be sure everything in the restaurant is Kosher (no food allowed in), they give away free Kosher baby food and free Cheerios for toddlers. All the food is prepared perfectly and the result is not surprising – it’s all delicious. The potato knish with a cream soda and matzoh ball soup was pure perfection. I could eat it every day. The chicken in a pot was equally great and it is so huge you will take home enough for two more meals. Many people were getting large takeout orders. You can bring home food that honestly tastes like grandma is hard at work in the kitchen.
Another great Glatt Kosher find was a Mexican place in Riverdale on Riverdale Avenue. It is “Carlos and Gabby’s.” It was astounding to have Jewish beef brisket that melts-in-your-mouth, in a burrito. They also prepare an interesting take on a Taco, “Carlos’ Taco Supreme. “ It is a soft corn tortilla layered with refried beans, wrapped around a crispy corn tortilla with a choice of meats and dressed with romaine, pico de gallo, jalapeno peppers and chunky guacamole. The soft tortilla with the bean spread holds the whole thing together. Different and yummy. The restaurant also sells traditional kosher food, some prepared with a southwest twist, like glazed chicken, skirt steak and Franks and burgers. I spoke with the owner, Ralph, and he tells me that his other restaurant is Kosher Japanese. It’s in Brooklyn. I have it on my short list of places to visit soon.
In the same shopping center, Skyview in Riverdale, we discovered a Kosher Pizza Joint. Just a very nice slice. Good dough and wonderful sauce. No meat here – dairy only (tomato sauce, cheese and toppings like mushroom and olives), observing the strict dietary rules. You can count on a good nosh here. Try it – you’ll like it.