Smoked Fish as well as Pickled and Otherwise Cured

What we mean when we say Smoked Fish has Landed:

Any and all of the following fish have arrived on a plane from NYC’s Russ and Daughters and Acme Smoked Fish. Generally speaking we source as locally as possible.

For these precious, shrinking cultural foodways and the facility to prepare them, they must travel a little further. Still artisan, still small scale production. Peter makes a run to the airport periodically and they sell fast. Come get them soon after we send the email notification. And sign up for the email list here.

Acme Smoked Fish. Photo by Karen Adelman.

Acme Smoked Fish. Photo by Karen Adelman.





Pickled Lox

Smoked Salmon Belly


Kippered Salmon

Herring Rollmops

Herring in Wine or Cream Sauce

Bering Ciscos

Smoked Trout

Bagels Matter. The Bagel Baron at Saul’s

Dan Graf came to us a few years ago from New Jersey. He worked the counter and on the line. His dry sense of humor and East Coast palate captivated customers and co-workers alike. Dan eventually brought a whole posse of his friends from Jersey to work at Saul’s, and it was a lot of fun.

At the same time Peter Levitt, Saul’s Co-Owner and Executive Chef, dreamed of raising the bar for the bagel experience. He believes people could and should be just as excited about bagels as they are about, say, wood-fired pizza, IF bagels were given the time and attention they deserved. But the Saul’s kitchen and chef responsibilities are packed with everything else served in Saul’s 100+ seat deli. Peter always pestered Dan (and any employee that would listen) with: “Why don’t you start a bagel business and sell me bagels?” And so on.

Baron Baking Bagels. Courtesy of Dan Graf.

Baron Baking Bagels. Courtesy of Dan Graf.

Then, Dan goes away for a few years. On Tuesday, June 5, without any warning, he walks into Saul’s with an armful of bagels he made all by himself. Bagels with contrast: dense, shiny, a chewy, crunchy crust and a depth of flavor that can only come from fermentation (and time and attention). They’re a revelation.

Dan didn’t say a word to us until he got them to a level worth talking about (and worth chewing on), after about a year of recipe testing and experimenting. And though he’s just a one-man artisanal start-up in a shared commercial kitchen, he has the capacity to supply us with all the bagels Saul’s needs – unusual for a new handcrafted venture. (We’re a pretty big restaurant and sell quite a few bagels.)

So less one week after Saul’s tasted them, we were selling Barons. As of Monday June 11. Come taste them and let us know what you think.

Celebrate Bagels

Seems it’s famine to feast on “real” handcrafted bagels in the Bay Area: Baron’s based in Oakland, Beauty’s in SF and soon-to-be Oakland, and SF-based Schmendricks. All truly a giant leap forward. Certainly we at Saul’s think so.

Rally your friends and family for the revolution in Bay Area bagels and bagel expectations!

Even in New York, where have all the good bagels gone? For The State of the Bagel in America, read:

NY Times: Was Life Better When Bagels Were Smaller?

NY Times: Montreal’s Bagels Square Off Against New York’s

NY Times: In New York, Try and Find a Genuine New York Bagel

NY Times ALL bagel stories

Deli Summit: The Renaissance

Exploring the Challenges and Thrills of the Modern Deli

Peter Levitt, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli, Berkeley
Noah Bernamoff, Mile End Deli, Brooklyn
Ken Gordon, Kenny & Zuke’s Deli, Portland
Evan Bloom, Wise Sons Deli SF pop-up

Moderator: Joan Nathan, Author of ten cookbooks including Jewish Cooking in America and Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Food Arts Magazine and Tablet Magazine.


Original billing:
May 2011
JCC of the East Bay (just around the corner)
1414 Walnut Street
Berkeley, CA 94709

On the menu from Wise Sons:
House-baked Bialys and Smoked Fish, with chive cream cheese, red onion & capers. Sweet and sour pickles on the side

The beloved institution of Jewish delis continues to disappear.

But a few brave delis are breaking up canons of the dying model. Delis in this NY Times article by Julia Moskin: Can the Jewish Deli Be Reformed?

Saul’s Restaurant and Deli in Berkeley is convening these upstarts for a Deli Summit. Four very different models of renegade.

Saul’s owners Karen Adelman and Peter Levitt believe they and their colleagues will benefit from collaboration on a common language. In a culinary genre defined by rigid expectations (yet varied depending on customer), comparison and critique, these delis trailblazing the deli lexicon can gradually give each other points of reference and authority.

This is a restaurant concept being actively revived. What do these departures from the Deli Institution look like on the menu, the plate, in the dining room? What does it mean to thrive as a deli business? 

This is a follow-up to Saul’s Referendum on the Jewish Deli MenuNow with the other Delis, Saul’s will talk nuts and bolts of their industry.

It’s a behind the scenes, chefs-in-the-trenches conversation open to the public.

Some of the Press on Deli Summit

Jewish Telegraphic Agency A New Generation of Jewish Delis Embraces Sustainability
San Francisco Chronicle Organics, Hand-Crafted Meat Redefine Jewish Delis
San Francisco Chronicle People Meter Celebrating the Delicatessen Experience
Oakland Tribune Jewish “Deli Summit” in Berkeley debates the future of the giant sandwich
Seattle Weekly Deli Visionaries Rooting for Stopsky’s to Define Seattle Deli Culture
Bay Citizen Berkeley Deli Owners Convene Summit to Discuss the New Face of Jewish Food
Slate Pastrami: Discuss. Notes from the first-ever Deli Summit
Zester Daily Deli Summit: Fleshing out a narrative of decline, renaissance and pastrami at the deli summit in Berkeley, CA
JWeekly Maverick deli owners ride into Berkeley with a burr in their kreplach


Housemade Pastrami: brined, spiced, smoked

Pastrami on rye with mustard, a simple pleasure, no?

No, not really simple at all.

Saul's has been in business since 1985. Serving Deli in Berkeley. Early on, Saul's got pastrami from New York. It arrived in a plastic bag, and we steamed it to order. It traveled three thousand miles. In the 1990's Peter & Karen took over and we procured local, hormone free and antibiotic free meat but sent it to Los Angeles for curing.  Most, if not all of the New York Delis have partnerships like this with outside pastrami makers. Then, we started having trouble with supplies of this special arrangement.

Finally, we decided to bring pastrami production under our roof.

Now many permutations and decisions.

For the rub: Red or black? Definitely coriander, black pepper, paprika. What proportion each? Allspice, clove, garlic?

What kind of smoke and how much? Pastrami is a smoked meat after all. A whole generation is used to pastrami out of a plastic bag with only a distant hint of smoke.

Cut of meat? Navel or brisket. One is too fatty, the other too dry.  Strictly grass fed or corn finished?  Cow or steer meat?

About the brine: Pump and float or just float or just dry rub? Minimize nitrates and risk the perfect pink color?

We are aiming for a pastrami that is never too dry or fatty (although this is very subjective), peppery, spicy, smoky and essentially on the fatty side. Please remember that in every piece of pastrami, even assuming the most skilled slicing, there will be sublime to less sublime and then sublime again, in one piece. Hopefully you get a perfect combination of slices on a perfect pastrami day. If not let us know.

With so many variables it becomes a rather complicated and changeable process. We hope you will join us in this journey, still very new.  Your feedback is always welcome, especially written form and shared with love and positivity for the future of deli.

San Francisco Magazine Taste Test: Pastrami by the Pile

Referendum on the Jewish Deli Menu

Can a retro cuisine be part of the avant-garde?

A sold out audience of over 250 attended our February 9 discussion. Feedback and debate in the restaurant (and online!) has been tremendous.

We brought together Michael Pollan, Evan Kleiman, Willow Rosenthal and Gil Friend. We chose panelists with the credibility of loving Deli (they all eat pastrami, and they all eat at Saul’s) and who are also driving sustainability.


Here’s the original billing.

February 2010

Michael Pollan, Journalist, Author: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food
Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic, Author: The Truth About Green Business
Willow Rosenthal, Founder, City Slicker Farms
Karen Adelman, Co-Owner, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
Peter Levitt, Co-Owner, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
Moderator: Evan Kleiman, Host, KCRW’s Good Food, Owner-Chef, Angeli Caffe

Proceeds benefit The Center for Ecoliteracy

**Venue has been changed from Saul’s to the JCC of the East Bayjust around the corner. To accommodate demand.**


Can the Jewish Deli be sustainable?

What does sustainability mean for the future of Deli cuisine and culture?

Many expectations of “real” Deli conflict with sustainability and today’s economic realities. Even “authentic” cuisine can obstruct progress toward more just, sustainable food. How does a business committed to being part of the solution persuade traditionalist customers of the importance of change?

For example, towering pastrami sandwiches once signified success, security and abundance, an immigrant’s celebration of the American Dream. But given the realities of meat production in America today – 99% is factory farmed – how can we continue to stand by this as an icon?

Even the factory farmed pastrami sandwich has become an unsustainable business model, because of its tiny profit margins.

How can we look at our nostalgia and expectations critically?

How might we evolve a shared cuisine together? How can Saul’s bring more people into the conversation?

There’s much more conversation to be had beyond the conversation we had on Feb 9 . . . come in and chat with us.

Check out our blog post on the (sometimes controversial) changes Saul’s has made over the years.

And please do stay tuned for future discussions at Saul’s. We’re thinking about the intersection of food, culture, identity, change, evolution, memory, the challenges of local, sustainable sourcing for a 100+ seat restaurant with a large, set menu . . .

Some of the press coverage of Referendum on the Jewish Deli Menu:
New York Times Bay Area Blog Organic or Authentic? The Saul’s Deli Debate
Diablo Magazine Deli Debate
KQED’s Bay Area Bites Who Owns the Deli?
San Francisco Chronicle The Thin Green Line Deli’s Efforts to Go Green Stir Up Controversy
Civil Eats Referendum on the Deli Menu at Saul’s: What is Tradition?
Ethicurean Saul’s Got SOLE: The Jewish Deli in Berkeley Evolves
Jewish Journal Foodaism A Sustainable Deli?
Jewish Daily Forward Can the Jewish Deli Survive the Sustainable Food Movement? Pass the Homemade Pickles
Berkeleyside Another Bite of Saul’s
EcoSalon Can Sustainable Restaurant Food be Democratized?
Treehugger Michael Pollan, Saul’s Deli’s Secret Pastrami Hawker?
Moment Magazine Yum! Burp! Delis, Pickles and Pastrami!
and finally:
New York Times Can the Jewish Deli be Reformed?