A lot of excitement lately centered around the pope’s visit to America and NYC. For the past few days, he cruised central park and 5th avenue, met with our leaders, played with children in Harlem, and crowned our new Pastrami king in Alphabet City. Ok, I’m not too sure about the last one, but that’s what I hear from my sources, Michael and Gabriel. Either way, Harry and Ida’s deserves the title. For too long Katz’s was at the helm doing a magnificent job satisfying tourists and locals alike, about 10 minutes from Harry & Ida’s. Though H&I is not really replacing Katz’s any time soon. Its the size of a shoe repair store without any tables, and a small counter by the entrance can accommodate about three food photographers.
When you first walk inside Harry & Ida’s for the first, you essentially sign a contract for life, or the duration of the place whichever ends sooner. You are asked two simple but lethal questions. “Have you been here before”, and “Would you like to taste some Pastrami”. Yes, I suppose that if you are a vegetarian you may throw up a little bit inside at the thought, but as for the rest of us, its a point of no return. You get two hefty, juicy pieces, far from your average deli sample. One bite and…done, contract is signed, “One pastrami sandwich please”. I invite the owners/manager to comment here please, and tell us if anyone ever left without getting more. It doesn’t seem like its scientifically possible.
The pastrami sandwich is not very pretty looking at first glance, especially to pastrami purists like me. It has dill, and cucumbers, and more importantly it has dill. WTF? With that said, lets pause for a sec for a bathroom break, and a tip…
EWZ Tip: If you come across a sandwich in NYC that has dill in it, its not a sign of a good sandwich, its a sign of a GREAT sandwich. Dill is one of the ugliest things you can put inside a sandwich, and a sure bet to scare some people away. But dill adds a nice flavor and aroma, and is specially complimentary in the summer, and over fish like salmon. And partially due to that ugliness, its normally a sign of great craftsmanship. “I don’t give a hoot about popular public opinion, I’m doing it my way”
The sandwich in a word is Maaaaarvelous (For my friends at Turks and Caicos who are smiling at this spelling). It looks ugly at first, but after a few bites, it looks like the prettiest sandwich on the planet. Thick, plentiful, tender, perfectly spiced slices can convert any purists out there. One of the most delicious sandwiches I ever had in NYC, and I’ve had many.
These guys are no strangers to the art of smoked meats. This is the sibling duo behind Ducks Eatery which I first tried a few years back at the Grub Street Food Festival. Harry and Ida are their great grandparents who inspired this masterpiece. There are more reasons to go back. Like the much talked about hot dog, or the smoked eel. But if they ask me that second question again, “would you like to try our pastrami”, how can I?
Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.
189 Avenue A (East 11/12)