It’s fitting that the grand opening of Ben’s in Scarsdale was on Tuesday, January 13 (a private party was held Monday night for friends, family, politicians—and lucky journalists), just one day before National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day. Of course, the pastrami sandwich is the raison d’être of any kosher restaurant. One without pastrami would be akin to an ice cream shop that didn’t have vanilla.
Ben’s, which also has three locations on Long Island, and one each in Manhattan, Bayside, and Boca Raton, fits into a dying class of restaurant—the Jewish-American deli.
Potato pancakes (latkes) and applesauce; a platter of kreplach (traditional Jewish-style dumplings).
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Ben’s thick-cut french fries; Ben’s comfy interior.
A souvenir to take home.
Early to mid-20th century New York City was clogged with thousands of kosher delis serving a Jewish-Americanized version of Eastern European cuisine (mainly Russia and Romanian influenced—the root word for pastrami, a cured or preserved meat, is the Romanian a pÄƒstra, which means preserve). In the latter part of the 20th century these delis started disappearing, partly due to ever-increasing rents and real estate prices, and also because many health-conscious diners associated the meat-, carb-, and dairy-heavy fare as a threat to their arteries (and pants size). Plus, let’s face it, knishes, kreplach, knockwurst, and chicken in a pot just aren’t sexy like sushi or artisan pizza.
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But they’re homespun and delicious, which is perhaps why Ben’s has been going strong for 41 years. So honor this longstanding cuisine by ordering a pastrami on rye and slathering it in mustard. And don’t forget the side of coleslaw.
718 Central Ave
(914) 468-2367; bensdeli.net