As a professional fresser and pastrami maven, I am verklempt to report that there's a new pastrami sandwich in town, and it has Katz's worried. My friend Will Horowitz of Duck's Eatery fame is the big macher behind the sandwich along with his sister and business partner, Julie.
Horowitz is a Jewish gastronomic mad scientist. At Duck's he makes everything from his own butter to smoking and canning his own mussels. His buttermilk fried duck confit and pumpkin waffles are my favorite brunch dish in the entire city. He once even served me uni (sea urchin) ice cream, and it was f$&@^%* fantastic!
Now at Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply, named after the siblings’ Jewish deli owning great-grandparents, Horowitz has his own laboratory to smoke eel, age his own Italian salamis and, perhaps most importantly, reintroduce a new generation who think that brisket was invented in Texas to Jewish pastrami.
The pastrami is celestial. Thick, chopped fatty deckle (not barbecue) is brined to make the perfect sandwich. Pickle spears, mustard, and dill are rolled together on a light yet rye bread-like roll to be consumed while walking or, better yet, leaning over the one small counter in the shop.
The recent film Deli Man lamented, like David Sax's book Save the Deli (which inspired the film), the near extinction of Jewish delis in this country, and particularly the demise of the pastrami on rye, the sandwich most synonymous with New York City Jewish deli culture. Unlike Mile End's homage to Schwartz's Canadian smoked meat which is very authentic, Horowitz has entirely reinvented the quintessentially New York City Jewish deli pastrami sandwich. The Jewish appetizing and bagel renaissance currently underway in New York now has a deli sibling that not only gives Katz's, 2nd Avenue Deli, Sarge's, and Pastrami Queen a run for their money, but serves possibly the best pastrami in the universe.