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Ben & Izzy's Deli

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on July 11, 2013 / review policy

Ben & Izzy's DeliBen & Izzy's Deli is Toronto's only truly Kosher deli. Located on the aging corridor of Bathurst north of Lawrence that caters mainly to Toronto's Orthodox Jewish community. Notable neighbours include Dr. Laffa and Gryfe's bagel bakery.

The three month old sandwich shop from co-owners Ben Venasio and Izzy Bernath takes over the stripmall address that was formerly the longtime home to the Negev Bookstore. Inside is bright and casual; knotty pine paneling wraps around the walls and comfortable seating is offered at tables or the lunch counter.

Ben & Izzy's DeliWhile most delis like Caplansky's and Pancer's are 'Jewish-styled', Ben & Izzy's is strictly kosher – Glatt kosher that is, which means the menu is dairy free. There's no butter, no cheese, or even milk for a coffee, though I'd argue that these are not things essential to a good delicatessen anyway. If anything, the house-butchered, brined and smoked meats benefit deliciously from the high quality and extra care that their preparation requires.

Served with a pickle, the Pastrami Sandwich ($9.95, lead photo) is crafted onto the type of soft rye bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth. The thin machine-sliced smoked meat is so moist it hardly needs even the obligatory squirt of yellow mustard. Hand-carved meat is available upon request.

Ben & Izzy's DeliLoaded onto a pillowy challah bun, the Chicken Club ($10.95) is a tasty introduction to the housemade beef bacon served over juicy grilled chicken thighs with lettuce, tomato and mayo. The beef bacon (or rather beef fry) surprisingly tastes and looks similar to the real thing; it's ribboned with fat, sliced super thin, par cook in an oven, and then, fried to order. Bernath admits he has no basis for comparison, but I certainly do and it's pretty impressive; the texture totally nails it.

Ben & Izzy's DeliThe Babke French Toast ($11.95) offers a sweet and salty breakfast option. Babke, a chocolate swirled bread with pudding centre is drenched in egg and fried before being piled with beef bacon and served with real maple syrup on the side.

Ben & Izzy's DeliAt just over three months old, Venasio and Bernath have already been questioned on plans to expand. Bernath seems reluctant, noting that the oldest and most successful delis are marked by always-present owners, schmoozing with the clientele.

The sandwich shop is open most days from 11am until 8pm, on Fridays they close at 2pm for the Sabbath and reopen for brunch Sunday mornings. Weekly specials vary but are known to include pickled tongue. Take-out and catering orders are welcome.

NOTE: Ben & Izzy's will be closed until July 17th in observance of the Nine Days.

Ben & Izzy's DeliPhotos by Natta Summerky

Discussion

15 Comments

p / July 11, 2013 at 02:30 pm
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that french toast is going to make me head up to Lawrence.
Dan Levy / July 11, 2013 at 04:21 pm
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It should be noted that Ben & Izzy's is NOT open right now due to an event in the Jewish calendar referred to as "The 9 Days" when no meat is to be consumed.

They WILL BE OPEN again NEXT WEEK on WEDNESDAY, JULY 17. [This comes from a buddy of mine who works there.]

BlogTO/Liora Ipsum, you should probably note this in the actual post.
jameson / July 11, 2013 at 07:17 pm
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While I am not jewish and I am actually a vegetarian, this looks amazing..,
Holy Thundering Jesus replying to a comment from Dan Levy / July 11, 2013 at 07:17 pm
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check their FB page, they are open!
Dan Levy replying to a comment from Holy Thundering Jesus / July 11, 2013 at 08:04 pm
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Obviously anyone who reads this is free to go to Ben & Izzy's and see for themselves. However, know that I confirmed my info with my friend who works there before I posted my first comment. Holy Thundering Jesus is basing his info on a Facebook post from Monday (and not a word from Ben & Izzy's there since).

I promise you they aren't open. They were planning to be but their predominantly Orthodox Jewish customer base weren't coming in in enough numbers during the 9 Days to warrant staying open (& paying their staff to be there) so B&I decided to just stay closed until after the Fast of the 9th of Av (which is at the end of the 9 Days).

Oh, and they also RTed my tweet about this review which had the added note that they're closed. See: https://twitter.com/TheDanLevy/status/355428853990170625
JAVRE / July 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm
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This is ridiculous content. Wake me up when something significant happens
Good PR though!

you're / July 11, 2013 at 10:24 pm
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you mention Glatt kosher (no dairy) but is mayo (found on the chicken club) not a dairy product?
Jamie replying to a comment from you're / July 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm
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Mayo is dairy-free...check any jar if Helmans...no dairy!
you're / July 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm
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what about the french toast?
AU replying to a comment from you're / July 11, 2013 at 10:44 pm
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Mayo is not a dairy product. It's mostly made from eggs and oil. Hellmann's for example, contains the following: CANOLA OIL, WATER, LIQUID WHOLE EGG, VINEGAR, SALT, LIQUID YOLK, SUGAR, SPICES, CONCENTRATED LEMON JUICE AND CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA.
Ira / July 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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While i am Jewish, i am not kosher. However, that being said, B&I's brings back one of the few dishes that kosher invented and can be done as good as non-kosher! I have been and their pastrami is excellent. I am so glad that B&I (and Caplanskys) have brought back to Toronto great Deli's. My arteries thank you!
jj / July 12, 2013 at 08:29 pm
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Crappy mayo has milk powder in it. I know it's never listed but it MUST be hidden in there. I'm lactose intolerant and it often sets me off : (
sw replying to a comment from jj / July 16, 2013 at 06:07 pm
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That last sentence was totes unnecessary.
Tzivy / September 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm
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Sounds amazing! I just heard about this yesterday and my husband and i are already planning to go today! I ready the article to my non- kosher secular father who grew up in Montreal and knows good smoked meat and he cant wait to try it with me. That will be the real test because he likes his smoked meat and knows authentic when he tastes it! Cant wait! Brw i love sushi but agree, i respect u focusing on ur specialty. Thats when u know ur going to get serious food worth the caleries... And heartburn :)
Tzivy / September 16, 2013 at 08:41 pm
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My husband went for a late lunch after my last post. We shared the pastrami sandwich and blt. The pastrami was out of this world! Juicy, full of flavour, tender and authentic. This is coming from someone who did not always eat kosher and was born in Montreal! The BLT was far beyond my expectations! The beef fry was sooooo good i suggested they sell their meat. It is NOTHING close to what ive tried in other restaurants or what they sell in the grocery store. Honestly i could have eaten 5 meals right there because it was so good. Its only been a few hours and ive been calling around suggesting friends and family check it out WITH ME.

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