There’s one deli here in Toronto that I constantly drove by, but never ventured into. Wolfie’s is in the North end of the city, at the core of the aging Jewish community, just down the street from the ravine where I learned to ski (which now has a holocaust memorial atop the ski hill). Every time I passed it, I looked at the satelite dishes arrayed outside, at the neon in the window, and the mischievous Wolf licking his chops, and knew that I really needed to get there.
So when I visited in the late fall, I was indeed impressed. In terms of small, old school delis, Wolfie’s is about as classic as Toronto makes them. The place has been opened since the 1970′s, and run by Dave Gelberman, his wife Gila, and Gila’s father Zev (Wolf in Hebrew), who all came from Israel. It’s a narrow, neighborhood place, bustling with atmosphere and packed with Coca-Cola memorabilia, including a dispenser of glass bottled cokes.
Wolfie’s is a fresser’s palace. There’s no kitchen, just sandwiches. The sandwiches are large. So large, in fact, that Gelberman gives you two additional pieces of bread on both ends, so you can take the sandwich apart and split it in two. He also lays on some of the ballsiest mustard I’ve ever seen. It’s filled with the scraps of meat from the slicing machine and with fresh chopped chili peppers. It’s basically a meal in itself and elevates Wolfie’s sandwiches to an artwork.
Recently, Wolfie’s was featured on the Toronto food show “Street Eats”. This is a great clip, but it’s also telling. Hear how Gelberman states that once there were 30-40 other delis in the area. Now there’s three. This is what we’re all fighting to save.
670 Sheppard Avenue West
North York, ON, Canada
*Closed on Shabbat