Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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Second Ave. Deli
162 E. 33rd St.
February 28, 2009 11:01 PM
The Second Avenue Deli has moved to Third Avenue, at 33rd Street, but it remains a citadel of kosher food and downtown deli service. You know this when you begin a meal not only with the familiar array of sour and half-sour pickles, but with a bowl of gribenes, which are the unbelievably luxurious leftovers from rendering chicken fat. They are squiggles and nibbles of skin along with limp caramelized shreds of onion that have been fried in the golden, full-flavored oil. Dangerous to munch before a meal because they are so addictive, gribenes are the world's best complement to one of the world's top chopped livers – smooth-flavored but ragged enough for textural excitement, insanely rich the way only organ meat can be, and yet fresh and sparkling the way liver so seldom is.
The deli sandwiches are definitive. While not the largest, they are piled high enough with meat that they still are barely pickupable. Pastrami is especially excellent, more smoky than spicy; and unless you pay $2 extra for lean meat, it comes just-right fatty.
Meals are topped off with a complimentary shotglass chocolate phosphate ("Bosco and seltzer," explains the waitress.) Second Ave.'s kitchen actually is kosher, meaning you can't get cheese on a sandwich and instead of butter to spread on bread, you may have to settle for chicken fat.
Hot Pastrami Sandwich
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