My visiting friend George and I went for lunch at Liebman’s Deli in The Bronx, apparently the last (there were once around 100) Kosher deli in The Bronx.
“Manhattan, with its towering temples of cured meat and pickles, is the spiritual home of the Jewish delicatessen. At places like the Second Avenue Deli, Katz’s and the Carnegie Deli, the remnants of a bygone era live on in the form of overstuffed (and expensive) sandwiches and signed portraits of notable noshers. The institution has lately been revived by chic interpretations around the city, like the Mile End delis. But at Liebman’s Kosher Delicatessen, on West 235th Street in the Bronx, where they’ve been slinging pastrami and brisket for more than six decades, no one seems to care much about New York’s deli resurgence, or think that it needed one in the first place.
When Joseph Liebman opened his restaurant in 1953, close to 100 delis vied for the attention of corned beef lovers across the Bronx. Today, Liebman’s is one of just two that remain [Note: the second deli: Loeser’s Deli closed in 2019]. From the simple “Liebman’s Delicatessen” neon sign (which includes the word “kosher” in Hebrew), to the no-frills Formica tabletops and padded booths, the restaurant has none of the flash or kitschy embellishments of the deli empires to the south.
In 1980, a native of Israel named Joseph Dekel purchased Liebman’s with the intention of preserving its original recipes. When Mr. Dekel died in 2002, his son, Yuval Dekel, who was only 24, took over. The younger Mr. Dekel was an unlikely deli man; he made a living at the time as a drummer in a heavy metal band called Irate.
“I used to come into the deli as a kid and eat while waiting around for my dad,” Mr. Dekel recalled, “or help in the kitchen making knishes. But I was a musician. I never anticipated I would be running the place.” For a while he kept up both professions. “On many occasions our band would play this great late-night show, then I would show up early the next morning at the deli,” he said. These days he still plays the drums for fun, but has made Liebman’s his professional home.” (New York Times, October 2014).
I had the Liebman’s Favorite: Hot Open Sandwich with Pastrami and Corned Beef with homemade ‘Thick’ cut fried potatoes, stuffed Derma and Gravy. I had a yen to try the Knishes so I ordered two potato knishes, one round and one square. Unfortunately they came out first and by the time I’d sampled them I didn’t feel like eating the main course. So after a few bites I took it home where it fed me for a couple of days. The food was great and the portions huge.
Taken with a Fuji X-E1 and Fuji XF 18mm f2 R