A Deli Grows in East Isles
The Twin Cities are littered with the bones of failed attempts to transplant an authentic Jewish delicatessen to the land of white sauce and white bread. The Jacobs brothers (Irwin and Shelly) gave it the college try with Sasha’s and Louie’s Habit, respectively. The Zaroff’s had their eponymous place off 394. Who can forget the Lincoln Del? (Its long tenure can’t be regarded as a failure.) Others remain in business, from Cecil’s to Mort’s, providing aspects of, but rarely a complete NYC or LA deli experience.
David Weinstein isn’t deterred. The Connecticut-bred lawyer has fired the latest salvo in the deli dramas, and it is an ambitious one.
Weinstein purchased the old Auriga building (empty five years) at Franklin and Hennepin, just a few blocks from his East Isles home, with the intent of creating an authentic Jewish deli. The food brains of the operation are those of longtime consultant and restaurateur (and full time Jew) Tobie Nidetz.
“I kept expecting to find a reason not to do it,” Weinstein explains. He didn’t get cold feet talking to Irwin Jacobs or obsessing about the local palate. Instead he spoke to banks and Small Business Adminstration while Nidetz prepared revenue forecasts.
Early reviews have been mixed, and opening week crowds were heavy. Tzimmes and kishke are already off the menu for technical reasons, and no one really knows if Rye can teach the town to love kreplach (meat dumplings) and bialy (a flat bagel-like thingy).
“What we’re going to be known for is our meats,” says Nidetz, “our smoked meats, corned beef; most good delis purchase their meats from outside vendors.” Rye employs the same “sensibility” as local chef-driven restaurants, Nidetz says, using natural, organic, and locally raised ingredients wherever possible.
With a small bar, a couple TVs, and a menu that includes omelets, cheesecake, and burgers, the 90-seat, all-day Rye is deliberately casting a wide net, rather than just preaching to the congregants at nearby Temple Israel. “We’re trying to fill an unmet need,” says Weinstein.
So, come for the hummus, stay for the matzo brei.