A small sign in this deli states, “Where Harry should have met Sally,”as it more than strives to keep pace with some of the few authentic Jewish delis still in existence. To get here requires a road trip to a location centrally located between New York and Boston—Vernon, Connecticut.
As it’s not technically located in New York, Rein’s “New York Style Deli”, puts the caveat right in its name, although once walking through the doors, it’s clear the hope is you may feel as at home as if you were eating in the big apple.
As you enter the restaurant and head towards either the take-out counter or the seating area, it’s hard to miss the smaller version of the Statue of Liberty standing in the middle of the restaurant, waiting for the huddled masses to be seated and start ordering.
The restaurant itself is sectioned into New York City boroughs, although depending on where your allegiance lies, and how much you enjoy puns, you may or may not be disappointed. From Staten Island (the private party room), to “Menhatten,” (the gents room) or “Queens” (for the ladies), Brooklyn seems to have the most booths in its area, and the Bronx is represented with a number of corner tables. Grand Central Station is where counter service allows you to watch what’s going on in the kitchen.
The Food and History
In business for more than forty years, the founder’s story is repeated on every menu—with Bob Rein, his wife Betty and brother Bernie brining, “authentic New York Style Jewish deli to New England.”
Upon sitting down, you’re greeted with garlic pickles and wait staff reminding you you’ll be served “in a New York minute.” The enormous menu has what deli goers have come to expect, from corned beef, to fresh rye bread, hand cut-lox (both belly and nova), knishes, blintzes, cheesecake, rugelach and more. While many items are homemade, there are also some items imported from New York City. If you haven’t gotten your fill and want to take some on the road with you, the restaurant provides many items packaged for traveling. The only thing inconsistent with New York City delis are the prices—as they are cheaper than what you’d typically encounter in the city itself.
According to “Deli Man”-a documentary allowing for more than just a taste of the impact of the Jewish Deli in America, in 1931 there were 1,551 kosher Jewish delis in New York’s five boroughs, alone. Today-some 150 Jewish delis remain in all of North America.
Rein’s website bombards you with ol’ blue eyes singing, “New York, New York.” And soon after that, you’re likely to hear your stomach grumbling as you see photos of the hot pastrami sandwiches piled high. And if you make it there, you may make it anywhere…at least you may end up rooting for this off-the-beaten-path-spot to beat the odds against the few delis that still remain.