Shelsky’s new bagel and sandwich shop isn’t your typical Jewish deli. There’s a Sichuan pepper bialy on the menu, for starters, and chopped cheese makes an appearance. But something else on the menu signals an even bigger departure: pork, and Taylor Ham at that.
When Shelsky’s—a beloved delicatessen at the edge of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights—recently expanded to the border of Park Slope and Gowanus, its proprietors decided their new bagel shop should branch out. The massive menu boasts a half-dozen pork items. The “Jersey pork roll,” known as Taylor Ham in the northern part of the Garden State, is an unlikely offering, not just for a Jewish deli but for the borough altogether.
It’s enough that NJ.com sent someone across state lines to check it out. Writer Jeremy Schneider claimed that the Shelsky’s rendition—with two eggs, American cheese and a thin cut of ham—“pretty much did it justice,” so consider this breakfast sandwich “kosher” in the non-literal sense. Schneider ordered his on an everything bagel; Pete Wells held up the toasted bialy as a vehicle instead. The default at Shelsky’s is a roll, and the guy behind the counter recommended one with onion baked into it—a worthy choice indeed.
With no available seating, Shelsky’s Brooklyn Bagels will cater primarily to the immediate neighborhood. Steps from the 4th Avenue F/G stop and the 9th Street R stop, the storefront functions best as a morning pickup for local commuters. They’ll have their pick of classic New York bagels, as well as a few gluten-free options, a BEC, the Jersey pork roll and a scrapple & egg sandwich with maple syrup.
Like the business’s original location on Court Street, the bagel store provides lunch options, too. Divided into “sandwiches your way”—with choices like sliced liverwurst, ham, bologna and Cervelat salami—and “sandwiches our way,” the list is almost overwhelming. A few of the favorites from the flagship store carry over, but some like the classic Reuben and the corned beef run a few dollars more.
The “your way” sandwiches are priced more accessibly, falling in the single-digit range. Most of the “our way” sandwiches hover around $20, putting them on par with places like Second Avenue Deli. At $5.50, the chopped cheese sandwich—a Harlem and Bronx staple on the verge of mainstream appropriation—is the only “our way” sandwich under $10. The hot pastrami ($19) is a miraculous thing, assembled with meat cured in-house and smoked over hardwood. Even after I took an immodest (and deeply satisfying) bite of his sandwich, my friend Max still had half of this heavy meal to take home.
As if that’s not enough, Shelsky’s also sells six smoked fish sandwiches around the $13 mark. The two standouts are arguably “the Brooklyn Native,” with whitefish salad, Gaspé Nova, pickled herring and sour pickles, or “the Newhouse,” named for Tablet magazine editor Alana Newhouse and served with Alaskan smoked sable, scallion cream cheese, and tomato on a toasted bialy.
Shelsky’s Brooklyn Bagels is the kind of place I’d take my Jewish grandmother if I lived nearby and the counter-service shop added some seating. Jersey or Bronx natives longing for a taste of home can find it here without leaving Brooklyn. But more than anything, Shelsky’s new outpost will be celebrated as a neighborhood joint making fresh bagels, on site, every day.
Visit Shelsky’s Brooklyn Bagels at 453 4th Avenue (Park Slope) or check out shelskys.com for more information.
Photos courtesy of Facebook/Shelsky’s Brooklyn Bagels.