The Jew And The Carrot

Shelsky's Appetizing Shop Puts the Old Bagel and Schmear to Shame

By Devra Ferst

  • Print
  • Share Share
Julia Dubois

In recent years, a few fortunate Jewish communities have seen a rebirth of the deli. Ribbons of house-smoked pastrami are layered on loaves of traditional seeded rye and served alongside crunchy house-made pickles. But what of the appetizing shops and dairy delis? Once a staple of Jewish communities, appetizing stores carried rich smoked salmon, fresh bagels, pickled herring and even a handful of sweets like rugelach. Many of the shops have disappeared and an appetizing renaissance hasn’t come yet.

Enter Shelsky’s Smoked Fish, the Brooklyn-based appetizing store which opened their doors for a soft opening yesterday. The tiny shop, which will officially open this weekend, will be serving up an ambitious list of cured and smoked salmon, pickled herring, bagels, bialys and pickles, many of which will be made in-house. A line of clementine and ginger flavored products — a cured salmon, pickled herring and rugelach, to start — named after the owner’s two daughters, will also be featured. And a list of creative sandwiches put the plain bagel and schmear to shame.

The signature sandwich, a Dr. Goldstein (named in honor of Jewish cardiologists everywhere), will sandwich chopped liver and horseradish between two shmaltz-fried latkes. Owner Peter Shelsky jokes that it probably belongs on the website This Is Why You’re Fat. The Peter Shelsky sandwich — a bagel or bialy with smoked salmon, scallion cream cheese, sable and pickled herring — was Shelsky’s favorite childhood combo.

Shelsky will make many of his delicacies in-house, and those which he doesn’t will be sourced from some of New York’s finest Jewish food purveyors: bagels and bialys from Kosar’s on the Lower East Side, smoked fish from the iconic Acme company and Samaki and Guss’s Pickles, which after generations in Manhattan now also calls Brooklyn home.

A native New York Jew, Shelsky was raised on Russ and Daughters and Zabars, but ironically got the idea for the store on Christmas. Married to a Christian woman from France, they celebrate Christmas eve with a traditional meal of lamb and pork but switch to Jewish appetizing fare on Christmas morning, feasting on smoked fish and herring. This past year, he longed to buy smoked fish without having to cross the bridge from Brooklyn into Manhattan. On January 2 he got started on his plans to open an appetizing shop less than a mile from his home. (The shop’s website cheekily says “No more schlepping.”)

The shop isn’t kosher, but Shelsky was careful to not serve pork despite his intense love for the pig. “I’m world’s worst Jew. I was bar mitzvahed on Masada and I have a pig tattoo on my arm,” he joked.

“Quintessential New York cuisine is: dirty water hot dogs, Guss’s Pickles, a true New York Slice and deli and appetizing shops,” he says, adding “I’m excited to have a foot in that.”

To see a full menu, check out Eater’s coverage.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Zabars, Smoked Fish, Shelsky's, Russ and Daughters, Guss's Pickles, Kosar's, Brooklyn Appetizing Shop, Appetizing Shop

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.