What does it mean to be an authentic, vibrant, relevant delicatessen today? To us it means bridging the links between the “Old Country” and the “New World,” and the future of food. Not being frozen in time, not attempting to replicate another place (like New York.) It means providing a cultural and culinary home to those looking for familiar and traditional foods. It means connecting with our roots all along the timeline of Jewish food.
At Saul’s we are excited about reflecting season, time and place. We reconnect with traditional culinary practices, minimizing, where possible, the impact of the industrial food system. Where possible we try to bring local processing and artisanal culinary experiences back to the diner.
At Saul’s the place of vegetables, seafood, legumes, and fruit in Jewish cuisine is celebrated and central. Our meat comes from producers who raise animals with the very highest standards of health, humane treatment, and ecological conservation. All of our fish is from Monterey Fish Company, whose mission is to support and encourage the use of local sustainable seafood. We serve all organic Acme Breads. Our coffee is fair trade and organic. We serve eggs which are cage free and organic. Our produce comes from among the very best of local and organic fruit and vegetable farmers.
In the 1930’s the Saul’s building was a produce depot right off the railroad tracks. Since the 1950’s, it has housed a delicatessen: First the Pantry Shelf, then Rosenthal’s, and finally Saul’s, established in 1986, in honor of Saul Lichtenstein. Saul and his wife Ginny liked to feed people. Saul held forth and Ginny cooked. Friends and family would gather with him to eat, talk with their mouths full, trade stories. We like all that. So come. Eat. Locally owned and operated.
Peter Levitt & Karen Adelman
Executive Chef and Co-Owner Peter Levitt has been reconnecting the Jewish eatery with traditional culinary practices for almost two decades. He started at a time when re-authenticating Jewish Deli was a lonely project. Today at Saul's, celery-tonic sodas and the like are made in house, crisp, chewy organic bagels are hand-rolled and delivered daily. Local grass-fed navels are house-cured and smoked.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Peter cooked in fine dining including stints at Oliveto and Chez Panisse, where he developed an understanding of local food procurement and production. Years later Karen Adelman, Saul’s Co-Owner called on Peter to help manage the local Jewish Deli. Peter realized there was no such thing as a New York Jewish Deli outside of New York. Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen would be a much more vibrant secular Jewish eatery if it built its menu around locally-grown, seasonal ingredients. This required leadership and often painful conversation with its customer base.
It was 1995. Saul's was doing its very best to ship as many beloved products as possible from New York - as any good, serious deli-ambassador had to do in the deli diaspora. (Outside of New York).
Peter and Karen stealthily turned around this giant ship of a 100-plus seat deli laden with New York-sized expectations. Back then, there weren't many local, artisanal food producers around, let alone suppliers of Jewish foodstuffs. Peter reached out to Acme Bread Founder Steve Sullivan and co-created a handmade, fermented rye recipe with real rye flour. Peter began a relationship with Bill Niman early in his ranching revolution to produce humanely and sustainably raised traditional cuts of meat for pastrami. Today Saul's is one of the few restaurants privileged to serve Bill Niman's seasonal grass-fed beef, alongside notables like Cafe Rouge and Chez Panisse. Saul's was one of the first to suppose that a farmer's market-driven menu isn't antithetical to what it means to be Deli.
While Karen and Peter have sometimes been perceived as subversive by the old guard, they have always collaborated with deli elders and are thrilled about the next generation of deli colleagues. Peter and Karen eat widely and argue passionately, and they invite you to join the conversation.