Walk into any deli and you're going to see the usual stuff. There's a display case of mayo drenched salads, and an array of deli meats. What you won't find is chaga or even a tank of live eels. Where could you be? At Harry & Ida's , a deli restaurant mash up that's an East Village staple.
Jeff Gordonier wrote about this interesting and mind blowing deli in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. It was created by Will and Julie Horowicz and named for their great-grandparents who were deli owners themselves. The newest generation keeps certain culinary traditions such as hefty brisket sandwiches, fresh killed and smoked eels and brined beef tongues. The first won Mr. Horowicz the top prize in the Brisket King of NYC competition. The deli's restaurant division Ducks is also garnering attention for its' barbecue, also winning recognition and second place at the Kingsford Invitational barbecue contest.The Horowicz's didn't come to their family's business easily.Ms. Horowicz was a Vassar grad , teaching English on the island of Reunion, off the coast of Madagascar. Her brother, a ping pong enthusiast (who has a fondness for playing the game au natural) had to come up with a snack heavy menu for the Flatiron district table tennis hangout SPIN New York.After garnering knowledge at SPIN, they opened up Harry & Ida's , definitely a homage to the family business
What makes them different than their great grandparents deli is their choice of foods.It's not just traditional Jewish deli foods but others that are from the American South, Native American and Asian traditions.Chaga sits marinating in a jar as Will Horowicz turns this Russian fungi into a tea. It's certainly not the traditional Dr. Brown's celery and cream sodas that are standard issue at any New York City deli.There is skate(!) jerky along with cattails (!!!) marinate in brine,. The last is a standard in indigenous cuisine and tastes like cucumber Pickled ,it'll fit in well in the Horowicz's deli, standing in for the traditional dill pickle. There are also brining crab apples, a sight not seen at any other eatery . Spruce , another North American food is also on the menu.. The brother and sister are big into foraging as well as fermentation, This is what makes the deli a stand out.They experiment, not selling for the everyday stuff like cole slaw and potato salad.
Harry and Ida's is a blend of new and old thanks to Will and Julie Horowicz. They blend traditional deli foods with new spins and ancient techniques. It's what makes their deli unique in a city full of the usual pastrami sandwiches.