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[WEEKEND eats]

In search of the perfect pastrami



Morty’s Kosher Style Delicatessen296 Main Street, Poughkeepsie •  Open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For years I have waited for a “real” Jewish style deli to open in the Hudson Valley.  Yes, I’ve made do for years with those diner Reuben sandwiches  that are found in every corner of the tri-state area.  Although tasty, it always seems to just miss the mark.  When I heard that a new Kosher-style deli was opening on Main Street in Poughkeepsie, I had mixed feelings.  Sure, I knew the famous Fells family was operating the foundling restaurant.  They had already had incredible success with their other venues including The Artist’s Palate and Chu Noodles. Could Morty’s Kosher Style Delicatessen actually fill the gastronomic void of my ancestors? Could the kugel be sweet and crunchy? The pickles just slightly sour? The smoked meats tender enough to fall apart merely by looking at them?

I took my friend Susan to see if our childhood Sunday morning memories filled with lox and knishes could be brought back by Morty’s.  We were pleasantly surprised by both the exterior and interior decorations.  Bright blue and white awnings welcome you in with fun old-time photography murals filling the walls.  Borrowing the famous cafeteria-style line from New York City’s iconic Katz’s Deli, you get to order at one end of the counter and pay as you stroll past cases laden with everything from hamantaschen cookies to a variety of smoked fishes.  They even have Dr. Brown’s soda for the purists among you.

As it was lunchtime, Susan and I opted for our mutual favorite sandwich ... corned beef on rye.  At least a half pound of thickly sliced house-cured beef was piled high on large slices of warm but crusty bread.  The monster portion was already slathered with mustard and came with a small side of coleslaw and a really good pickle.  After one bite, we knew that we were home.

The $12 price tag for this high quality sandwich was well merited. Similar choices can sell for over $20 as you get closer to New York City, if you can even find one. In fact, Morty’s has been known to run out of both the corned beef and pastrami early in the day.  The menu abounds with classic Lower East Side fare that has all but disappeared from the food landscape as the dishes are so time and labor intensive to prepare.

Many of the dishes boast cute names like “Hard of Herring”(a cold salad platter featuring pickled herring and schmaltz potato salad) or “Jewish Penicillin” (classic matzoh ball soup). The Bar Mitzvah set will appreciate the side dishes that include kasha varnishkes (barley and noodles) and noodle kugel (a sweet pasta side dish that doubles as dessert).  And for those less adventurous there are the more pedestrian hamburger platters and roasted chicken.

My sandwich was so big I ended up bringing home half of it for my husband.  We are both excited to go back and try Morty’s stuffed cabbage and Triple Bypass Platter (corned beef, smoked brisket and pastrami with two sides).  In the meantime, I’ll have what she’s having.


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