Downstairs continues to serve up traditional overstuffed pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, chopped liver, gefilte fish, a bowl of pickles on every table, and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda.
The upstairs menu favors a modern spin on the traditional, such as gefilte croquettes and smoked meat platters more like what you would find in a gasthaus or bierstube in the Alps, along with beer, Israeli wine and craft cocktails.
2nd Ave. Deli is on our list of NYC’s best traitional Jewish delis serving overstuffed meat sandwiches. See the entire list here.
Brothers Jeremy and Josh Lebewohl are nephews of Abe Lebewohl, who opened the original 2nd Avenue Deli on the Lower East Side in 1954. It closed in 2005 following a rent dispute with the landlord, upsetting its devoted clientele.
The brothers reopened on Third Avenue in Midtown two years later, and then opened this second location on First Avenue in 2011. They joke that the two addresses – First and Third Avenues still average out to Second Avenue.
The Lebewohl brothers saw a need in the Upper East Side neighborhood for a comfortable bistro and lounge with great food and drink, and they had the space above the restaurant, which is on First Ave. in the 70s, not on Second Ave.
The food upstairs is meant to be shared, and is priced between $8 and $20. It’s modern, says the NY Times, while still honoring the deli’s culinary traditions.
The gefilte croquettes, for example, start with traditional gefilte fish, a dish of ground fish, usually pike or carp, mixed with onions, celery, carrots, poached in fish broth and served with horseradish, usually during Passover.
Instead of boiling the patties, they are breaded and pan-fried, after being injected with a mixture of horseradish and beets, and garnished with shaved fresh horseradish.
Other dishes include pastrami deviled eggs and franks in a blanket, made with grilled beef hot dogs wrapped in a dough that has sauerkraut and baked beans mixed into it, and then coated with the same mix of seeds and spices on an “everything” bagel, according to Restaurant News.
Among other menu items are duck confit blintzes with duck cracklings, tongue sliders, and a soup made from an Eastern European Jewish delicacy called p’tcha, or jellied calves feet.
They include the Man-O-Manischewitz, made with London dry gin, mulled Manischewitz wine, lemon and cinnamon; The Sage and the Prophet, a blend of Chartreuse, sage, citrus and coconut water; and City of Gold (another name for Jerusalem), made with Guyana Rum, Slivovitz plum brandy, sherry, peach and lime.
Among other menu items are duck confit blintzes with duck cracklings, tongue sliders, served on little challah medallions with tomato, garlic, dill aïoli and pickled romaine, and a soup made from an Eastern European Jewish delicacy called p’tcha, or jellied calves feet.
Would my late German mother approve of tongue sliders? Would my late Eastern European mother-in-law approve of duck confit blintzes? Who knows.
2nd Ave. Deli locations are at 162 E. 33rd St. in Midtown. The upstairs bistro is above the restaurant at 1442 First Ave. at 76th St.
Images courtesy 2nd Ave. Deli