Oh joy of joys!
Here in Toronto, sweet as the deli may be, it is unfortunately all rather far from where I live. Though deli began in the downtown Kensington Market area, which later became Chinatown, the last deli to leave the city core did so decades back. Downtown Toronto is largely deli deprived, save the New Yorker Deli, which I’ve been to a few times.
But in the areas where the Jewish core of Toronto once grew…Chinatown, College, the Annex…there ain’t a knish in sight.
A few months back I got a quick and cryptic message from someone named Zane Caplan. It began with the words “I’m in the process of opening a deli in the Toronto area and I found your site. Great stuff.”
That piqued my interest, though I naturally assumed it would be located north in Thornhill or Richmond Hill or one of the other Hills and Mills that make up suburban Jewish Toronto, home of Moe Pancer’s, Center Street, Coleman’s, Steeles Deli, and a few others.
A month ago I got another email from Caplan.
“Just wanted you to know that earlier today I made a deal to bring Caplansky’s smoked meat (hand cured, smoked and sliced) to College and Clinton. Details soon.”
Now College and Clinton really got me excited. This is one of my favorite intersections, the heart of little Italy, close to streets packed with bars, near my girlfriend’s apartment, and cheek and jowl with the veal sandwich vendors. A deli in my very own hood? Could it be so true?
The answer, I will soon find out, is yes! Yesterday, Zane Caplan sent me the below scan of the tentative Caplansky’s menu (prices and items subject to change).
Now I even see that Caplansky’s will be located in the Monarch, a classic tavern that is one of the best drinking dives in Toronto. Beer, smoked meat, fries and soup, all with locally made beef and house cured/smoked smoked meat! On Silverstein’s rye!!!
I have just woken up in heaven. Even though I’m planning on moving to New York in the fall, this could actually bring me back if things don’t work out.
And so, I’ll close this hopeful note with a final word from Mr. Zane Caplan, the latest addition to the Toronto deli scene, and the man who’ll bring deli back downtown (we hope for good):
“Its an honour to be bringing our family tradition back to the area where we first settled. FYI: my great-grandfather, the man I’m named for, was one of the first kosher butcher’s (shochets) in the city. My grandfather’s brother owned a restaurant and my father owned a restaurant. This is my calling.
Long live deli!”