No group trip to New York City is complete without a visit to one of its iconic delis. Towering plates of corned beef, pastrami, matzo ball soup, and velvety, melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake are a few of the memorable dishes in which visitors can indulge.
Of course, there aren't as many as there once were: at the turn of the century, Orchard Street on the Lower East Side was teeming with Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrants all living chock-a-block in overcrowded tenement buildings. And they all had to be fed: home-cured pastrami, corned beef on rye, beealys, and potato knishes, all washed down by Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda. "Established in 1888, Katz's Deli is still feeding the masses and has become a NYC institution." This was the introduction Anthony Napoli, president, CMP, DMCP of New York City-based Briggs, Inc., a DMC Network Company read upon awarding Katz's with the June Briggs Award, honoring exceptional contributions to the hospitality industry.
"When you walk into Katz's Deli you walk back in time," says Napoli. "It's a time when your immigrant ancestors lived around the corner and stopped by for a meal. Preserving the traditional old ways of curing meats, Katz's is redolent of the Old World from taste to ambience."
Another New York institution is Carnegie Deli, which recently reopened after being closed for almost a year. Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan just across from its namesake, Carnegie Hall, the deli was a labor of love for Milton Parker when he took over the restaurant in 1976 from the original owners. Today, Parker's daughter, Marian Harper, and her daughter, Sarri, are at its helm.
Presidents, celebrities, and athletes join New Yorkers and tourists alike as they clamor for Carnegie Deli's towering sandwiches. What's helped make Carnegie Deli stand the test of time is the way it cures and smokes all its meats and also bakes its celebrated cheesecakes and knishes at its commissary.
It has been said there are 8 million stories in New York City, and plenty of these come from the Carnegie Deli. Chance encounters, engagements, and business deals have all taken place at the deli's communal tables.
"When I see people leave the deli with a smile, it makes me happy," says Harper. "That's what makes me feel good - making people happy."
The deli's reach has been extended with a website, t-shirts, and even candles scented with aromas like cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, and pickles, which can be bought for attendees to give them keepsakes of their iconic New York meal.