The Jew And The Carrot

Noah Bernamoff on the Growth of Mile End Deli

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

  • Print
  • Share Share
Taylor Wallick

Noah Bernamoff and Rae Cohen made quite the splash (at least in our circles), when they opened Mile End, a Brooklyn-based Montreal-style delicatessen, where they are pickling, curing and smoke everything from scratch.

The two now plan to expand their business to Manhattan’s Nolita, where they’ll open Mile End Sandwich sometime around April 23 and later this summer, they’ll also open a storefront next to their new Red Hook kitchen, where they make all the food for their Brooklyn and Manhattan locations.

We caught up with Bernamoff to find out more about the new spots, Mile End’s upcoming cookbook and what he thinks of the growing popularity of Jewish food.

Lucy Cohen Blatter: How will Mile End Sandwich be different than Mile End?
Noah Bernamoff: There are a couple of differences — one, it really is just sandwiches. We’re going to have a lot of breakfast sandwiches — like eggs, bacon and cheese on rye bread, and a breakfast burger, which is a veal patty cooked with eggs on top of a homemade English muffin, served with apple butter and maple syrup.

We’ll also have our Mishmash [their signature mixture of eggs and salami or eggs and lox] available in a sandwich version. We’re working on some smoked fishes, too. It’s not far from what we do at Mile End food-wise.

The other big difference is that there is going to be counter service rather than table service. There will be one large central table to sit at with a bunch of stools around it. People will sort of have to fight for a seat… hopefully. They’ll either take their sandwiches in a bag or on a tray.

Are there any sandwiches that will be completely unique to the new shop?
Generally, all of the sandwiches have been served at the deli as a special but we’ll have a great tongue sandwich, a chopped liver and pickled egg sandwich, a vegetarian sandwich and a couple of salads.

You had some trouble getting a liquor license because of the Community Board. What’s the status with that?
We’re going to wait to make some inroads with the Community Board and we’ll try it again…it shouldn’t be too long before we have beer. Beer was as popular on the Lower East Side 100 years ago as pastrami was. We need to have it.

What are the plans for the new storefront at your Pier 41 kitchen in Red Hook?
It will be a mini-market where people can buy our meat by the pound, bread by the loaf, canned products like pickles and preserves and maybe a daily lunch special. It’ll likely open in early June.

Do you think New Yorkers’ general feelings toward deli have changed since you opened Mile End two years ago?
Yes, I think people are coming around to it. I think it’s primarily Jews who are being self-reflective. I don’t think it’s as much that non-Jewish New Yorkers are suddenly yearning for Jewish food.

I didn’t open Mile End for the sake of reviving Jewish food, I just thought it was a good idea. I’m definitely not on any mission — just to make delicious food the way it’s delicious to me.

People like the idea that we treat the deli the way it used to be done a long time ago — it’s our going-back-to-our-roots approach that people seem to respond to.

What are some of the biggest accolades you’ve gotten from customers?
People like that it’s cozy, and it feels like a real family business. Delis have become so schmaltzy.

What kinds of complaints do you tend to get?
They’re almost always nostalgia-based, things like “that chicken soup isn’t as good as my bubby’s” or “the pastrami is not like the deli I grew up going to in Clevelend” or “this isn’t like Schwartz’s” [the iconic Montreal deli].

Also, since we’re making everything from scratch, probably about every 20the sandwiches will be mediocre, and that’s just the reality of everything being homemade.

When people complain about the portion sizes I always say, if you want overstuffed sandwiches there are places for that — go to Carnegie Deli.

Do you think there’s currently a renaissance of Jewish food in New York City?
Certainly the press is paying more attention to it. You have some places that are doing Jewish food only — places like Kutsher’s, and then others that are doing some Jewish-inspired foods on their menu, like Joe Dobias at JoeDoe.

Courtesy of Mile End

What do you think of Kutsher’s Tribeca [the new modern Jewish restaurant from the family behind the famed Catskills resort]?
I think they’re doing a great job, I think, again, Jews are a really tough bunch. Kutsher’s has it even harder than me because their brand is one of the most nostalgic of Jewish cultural institutions — it’s such a difficult moving target. I give them so much credit for trying.

I can critique the food, of course, but I had some really good stuff while I was there. The short ribs were really good, and so was the chicken soup. We also got the meat board — with tongue and duck pastrami — and that was really high quality.

What’s the status of the cookbook you’re working on?
It’s pretty much done. It will be out in September. It’s divided into two parts. The first is about DIY deli — making salami, smoking turkey, that kind of thing.

The second part is called “To the Table,” and it shows you how to serve and enjoy the things from the first part of the book.

I guess you could say the first part of the book requires more technique and a higher skill level. The second half will include recipes for side dishes, vegetables, cakes and cookies.

It’ll also have a breakfast and brunch section — you’ll see that even if you don’t make your own lox, you can still make a great Mishmash.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rae Cohen, Noah Bernamoff, Mile End Sandwich, Mile End, Mile End Cookbook

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!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • 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.