The New York Times publishes its review of the Brooklyn deli Mile End’s relatively new dinner menu. “It is, technically, a deli, although that is sort of like saying that Quentin Tarantino makes B movies,” reviewer Ligaya Mishan insightfully writes. “Rather, it is a loving tribute to the deli tradition, whose guilty, cholesterol-laden pleasures are uplifted here with first-class ingredients.” I made a similar point in December when I reported on the restaurant’s plan to serve Chinese food on Christmas—in a sense, yet one more realization of a “a loving tribute to the deli tradition.” (A successful one, I later found).
An interesting side-note, which did not make it into my final cut and which Mishan only hints at, is Mile End’s similarity to Torrisi Italian Specialties, a very popular and hip Manhattan delicatessen; Mile End’s sous chef, Aaron Israel, is an alum of its kitchen. Essentially, Torrisi is to Italian food what Mile End is to Ashkenazic cuisine: By day, it serves the classics, straight-up but better than anyone else (Tablet Magazine’s office is a block from Torrisi, and I can vouch that the chicken parm is superb); by night, it at once pays homage to and swerves away from the staples by updating them with modern cooking techniques and lots and lots of fat.
The only thing that puzzled me about the Times review was this complaint: “But what’s with the salt?” Um, dude, have you ever eaten Ashkenazic comfort food? That’s what’s with the salt.