New York Times food critic Frank Bruni reviewed Katz’s Delicatessen in today’s paper. He gave the oldest delicatessen in existence one star, which I and many of you will take as an insult. I personally find it insane that affordable institutions like delicatessens and pizza places are ranked against the Le Cirque’s of this world. It is not only unfair, but it is unjustified. At the Toronto magazine where I write reviews, restaurants that fall into the cattegory of quick lunches or timeless spots are spared the stars, and receive only a reccomendation. But hey, it’s the Times.
Before you unleash your hate mail toward Bruni, pause and read the review, which does a wonderful job of glorifying and already glorious place.
“To revel in its pastrami sandwich, one of the best in the land, with an eye-popping stack of brined beef that’s juicy, smoky, rapturous. To glory in the intricate ritual of the place: the taking of a ticket at the door; the lining-up in front of one of the servers who carves that beef by hand; the tasting of the thick, ridged slices the server gives us as the sandwich is being built; the nodding when we’re asked if we want pickles, because of course we want pickles.
It’s a ritual unique to Katz’s, an argument, along with Katz’s age, to consider it the king of New York delis, reigning above the Carnegie, above the Second Avenue Deli, which closed a year and a half ago. It may reopen, but not on Second Avenue, a reminder that nothing can be taken for granted.
Katz’s shouldn’t be. At few other restaurants can you feel that you’ve stepped this surely into a living museum, a patch of urban mythology.”