Interesting moments in the history of Jewish food in NYC

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RECOMMENDED: Guide to Hanukkah in NYC

1654: North America's first Jews, a group of 23 Spanish and Portuguese refugees, dock in New Amsterdam.

1851: Ernest Nathan opens the first kosher slaughterhouse on Bushwick Avenue, establishing the Brooklyn meatpacking industry.

1888: The Lustig family opens a Jewish delicatessen on the Lower East Side. In 1902, the business is sold to the Eisland brothers, who relocate it to a space across Ludlow. Benny and Harry Katz take it over in 1916, changing the name to Katz's Delicatessen and moving it across the street, where it remains today.

1890s: The egg cream—a soda fountain drink made with chocolate syrup, milk and soda water—is born. Many historians attribute Jewish candy store owner Louis Auster with its invention, but facts surrounding the drink's origins are murky.

1907: Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant Nathan Radutzky starts producing the tahini-based sweet halvah. More than 100 years later, Joyva (now run by his grandson Richard) still produces Radutzky's candies—halvah, jelly rings and more—right in Brooklyn.

1921: Bella and Elias Gabay establish Gabila's Knishes, which continues to supply Jewish delis today. The couple first conceived of the snack when a customer orders blintzes with potatoes instead of cheese at their Lower East Side restaurant. The puffy potato square—named for the town of Nish, where the pair were married—proved to be popular, and Elias started selling them from a pushcart on the Lower East Side and in Coney Island.

1939: At the New York World's Fair, Tel Aviv Cafe in the Jewish Pavilion serves traditional food like jezreel (a dish made with zucchini, eggs, parsley and potato) and dagg makiah (pickled herring with cream sauce).

2010: Danny Branover opens a kosher restaurant, Basil Pizza & Wine Bar, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in an effort to bring together the neighborhood's often-sparring Hasidic and non-Hasidic communities. The move sparks both praise and derision from locals: Some welcome the presence of a higher-quality kosher restaurant, others are wary of the diverse clientele.

Mile End pegs itself a "Montreal Jewish delicatessen in Brooklyn," offering classic deli eats like matzo ball soup, and elevating traditional favorites like kreplach, a traditional pasta dumpling.

Former Top Chef contestant Nikki Cascone opens "global Jewish" restaurant Octavia's Porch, named for the primary thoroughfare in Rome's Jewish ghetto.

See restaurant reviews for Mile End and Octavia's Porch

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3 comments
rosalie reinhardt
rosalie reinhardt

What about The Carnegie Delicatessen? They were the biggest rival with The Second Avenue Deli on whose Corned Beef was better. Hands down, Carnegie always won. Their food is delicious and servings are massive and top grade.

Barbara Zapson
Barbara Zapson

HOW COULD YOU FORGET "YONAH SHIMMEL'S KNISHES". I DON'T KNOW IT'S HISTORY, BUT MY GRANDPARENTS USED TO TAKE ME THERE AND I'M 75 YEARS OLD!! I BELIEVE IT IS STILL ON HOUSTON STREET, A HOLDOUT BETWEEN THE HIGH RISES. MY GRANDFATHER WOULD HAVE "A GLASSALA TEA" AND I WOULD SHARE A KNISH WITH HIM. THEY WERE HUGE AND DELICIOUS, NOT THE CARDBOARD ONES YOU GET IN TODAY'S SUPERMARKETS!

mia lee
mia lee

check out this fascinating food history