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Friday, May 27, 2016

DELI MAN (2014)

Reasonably tasty little documentary from Erik Anjou about a handful of traditional Jewish Delicatessens keeping the old values & recipes alive for new generations. Unlike Kosher Franks, it’s not without filler, but a decent chew on the meat-to-bun ratio. The main focus is on Ziggy Gruber, the knish-shaped owner/cook of Kenny & Ziggy’s in Houston, TX (of all places), an amusing guy with an amusing life story. But the standout spot’s got to be Ben’s Best in Rego Park Queens, even if they don’t hand-slice. (But why include Artie’s? A decent enough Upper West Side Manhattan place, but only six & a half blocks from the fabulous original 1930s interiors of Barney Greengrass, Manhattan’s go-to smoked fish deli.) And a trade-off between customer kibbitzing and a proper survey of behind-the-counter offerings also couldn’t have hurt. (Not everyone knows that Barney Greengrass whitefish salad is what Jehovah eats in place of tuna salad; or that what looks like a deeply unappetizing hunk of cow flesh is smoked tongue; properly sliced, bologna for the Gods.)

DOUBLE-BILL: Woody Allen’s BROADWAY DANNY ROSE/’84, one of his mid-career delights, is told in flashback by a bunch of comedy kibbitzers hanging out in the Carnegie Deli.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Jerry Stiller brings up deli fanatic Zero Mostel, but neglects to mention Mostel’s classic line on pastrami & other Romania delicacies, ‘Killed more Jews than Hitler.’

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