Save the Deli

Caplansky’s is coming to Toronto

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!”

6 Responses to “Caplansky’s is coming to Toronto”

  1. Stu Shiffman Says:

    Finally Getting to Goldberg’s – a report from Seattle –
    My wife and I went out Mother’s Day evening with another childless midde-aged couple (we would never go out for brunch on such a day, unless we were getting tacos or Chinese food). We went to Goldberg’s Deli at Factoria mall on the Eastside of Lake Washington from Seattle, since our friends had given us a gift card. I’d been reading your blog and just jonesing for some good Jewish soul food.

    Nice space, little delicatessen shop in the front. My wife got a brunch special: bagels, omelet, hashbrowns, and an enormous piece of very nice smoked whitefish. She was very happy. My friend Suzanne had the stuffed cabbage, which looked very nice and she enjoyed it. My friend Jerry had the beef brisket dinner, which was a generous portion but the only DRY Jewish-style brisket that I have ever seen. I went very traditional — potato knish, pastrami on rye with coleslaw on the side, and a generous piece of noodle kugel to follow. The knish was nice (the accompaniment of gravy was unfamiliar) but I think that it may have been zapped rather than oven reheated. The heat disipates faster. The pastrami sandwich was very good, not oversized, tasty but a little dry but the Gulden’s helped that (just French’s yellow mustard and Gulden’s — no regular deli mustard). Heck, I like Gulden’s just fine ordinarily but it was not what I expected to see there. The noodle kugel was great, although obviously not as good as my mother’s and mine.

    So, a mostly positive experience. We got rugalach and Joyva halvah from the front counter on the way out. My wife was very happy, and squealing over the whitefish to her mother in Hartford CT the next time she called.

  2. Save The Deli » Blog Archive » “Brisket and twister bagels find their way back downtown” in the Globe and Mail Says:

    [...] first is on the return of Jewish food to downtown Toronto, including Caplansky’s deli, which will open tomorrow (I’ll be [...]

  3. Dave MacKinnon Says:

    I just went to Caplanski’s for lunch. It’s the best thing to happen to little Italy in years!

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