Michael Dellar, Dennis Berkowitz and John Schwartz are some pretty big names in the restaurant and wine worlds. Dellar owns the Lark Creek Restaurant Group; Berkowitz owns the Max’s restaurant chain; and Schwartz is a wine industry heavyweight who owns Amuse Bouche winery.
Together, they are “Pastrami Boys, LLC” — owners of the new Pastranomy food truck that has started serving Jewish favorites from a parking lot in downtown Napa five days a week.
“The truck is operated by the Pastrami Boys,” Dellar told me, “but we kind of want to be behind the scenes. For us, it’s a labor of love. We are three guys who each run their own company, who love deli and who wanted to have some fun.”
Dellar said the idea for the food truck hatched because Napa was lacking a New York–style deli.
“The owners have a lot of love in their hearts for this food,” said the truck’s chef and manager, Allen Miller, “and they wanted a traditional deli on wheels rather than just a food truck that serves pastrami sandwiches.”
Signature items are pastrami, corned beef and Reuben sandwiches; latke tots; matzah ball soup; half-sour pickles; and breads including double-baked rye, onion rolls, challah and pumpernickel. The menu also includes Reuben balls (a Cleveland specialty) and baked goods.
(Turkey, tuna salad and Portobello mushroom sandwiches also are offered — but do we really care about that stuff?)
The truck got a good review last week in the Napa Valley Register, which quoted Dellar as saying, “If all goes well, we intend to consider a brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown Napa.” Cool.
For now, it is open middays Tuesday through Saturday, or later if there’s a crowd. Day-trippers be warned: The truck is closed on Sundays.
Miller is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Sacramento. But just as important for this gig, he is tattooed, wears an earring and did a stint on a San Francisco food truck, 51st State.
Oh, but is he Jewish?
“I’ve been getting that question a lot,” he said of his first few weeks in the truck. “No, I’m not. But I’ve actually had a love for this cuisine for quite a while, and I’ve been learning more and more about it.”
By ordinance, the truck can’t set up any tables, so people have been taking their food to nearby parks or benches, back to their offices, or to the riverfront area a few blocks away. Dellar said the other businesses in the area are excited about the “vitality” and the foot traffic that Pastranomy is creating.
Pastranomy, by the way, is “where pastrami meets gastronomy,” Dellar said.
Corner of Main and Clinton streets, Napa
Tuesday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (“ish” according to the website)
@Pastranomy on Twitter; Pastranomy on Facebook;
www.pastranomy.com, (707) 483-DELI (3354)
FESTIVALS OF BITES: In August, two Jewish food festivals about 170 miles and a week apart have been entered into my Google calendar as great day-trip opportunities. Both are free and open to the public.
The first is Aug. 19 at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa, where organizers, cooks and bakers are preparing for what they’re calling “Sonoma County’s first annual Jewish Food Festival.” The Sunday event will include homemade Jewish comfort foods, bakery items and deli takeout for sale, plus the requisite activities and music. The bakery area will feature homemade desserts made by Jewish mothers, grandmothers and even some fathers.
Offerings to consume on-site will include egg creams, latkes, corned beef sandwiches, different types of kugel, and lox and cream cheese on bagels. Up for bid at a silent auction will be items such as a bagel-baking class.
“This event has been in the planning stages for more than a year,” said Sue Lewis, festival chair. “We have more than 200 people working on this project.”
A week later, on Aug. 26, the 25th annual Jewish Food Festival will be held at Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel Valley. Parking at a nearby middle school is free, with frequent free shuttle buses.
Items for sale will include latkes, chopped liver, knishes, blintzes, matzah ball soup and corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, along with home-baked challah, rugelach and mandelbrot. In addition, there will be a dramatization of a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, Israeli folk dancing and crafts booths.
“The congregation looks forward to this event each year,” CBI Rabbi Bruce Greenbaum said. “After all, who doesn’t love Jewish food?”
Congregation Shomrei Torah Jewish Food Festival
Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
2600 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa
www.shomreitorah.org, (707) 578-5519
Congregation Beth Israel Jewish Food Festival
Aug. 26, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
5716 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley
www.carmelbethisrael.org, (831) 624-2015
Two weeks after firing up the ovens in its new location at 463 Second St. in Oakland, the Authentic Bagel Company still isn’t open for retail sales, but it recently added the Grand Lake Café (northeast side of Lake Merritt) and Aroma Café (downtown Oakland) to its wholesale list. These are the best bagels in the East Bay, and people keep asking me where they can try them, so here’s the rest of the list. In Berkeley at Homemade Café, Philz Coffee, Rick and Ann’s, Café Yesterday and Uncommon Grounds; in Oakland at Good Bellies, Coffee Mill and Telegraph, formerly Mama Buzz … Authentic’s plan is to open one or two days a week for bagel sales, just to “let people know where we are and what we offer,” said co-owner Jason Scott. That will start July 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the nearby Jack London Square Sunday farmers market is running … The sign is up outside Beauty’s Bagel Shop at 3838 Telegraph Ave., near 40th Street and the MacArthur BART station. But owners Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen are still waiting for final inspections to clear, and Joffe “didn’t want to jinx it” by giving me an opening date for the appetizing shop. “We’re close,” he said. “Maybe in a few weeks.” … The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is selling tickets for “The Big Eat: A CJM Mixtape” at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9. The night of short talks and presentations (by artists, chefs and food/beverage purveyors) will include Wise Sons Jewish Deli owners Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom talking about pastrami-making, and distiller Arne Hillesland sharing the botanical secrets behind No. 209’s kosher-for-Passover gin. The overall theme is the intersection of food and art in the Bay Area. Check www.thecjm.org for more details … The July issue of San Francisco Magazine did a taste test on local bagels, but tried only seven kinds, most of them based in San Francisco. The magazine’s rankings, in order: Schmendricks, House of Bagels, the Bagelry, Noe Bagel, Katz Bagels, Holey Bagel and Beauty’s Bagel Shop … Speaking of rankings, the pastrami burger at Wise Sons Jewish Deli made it onto the daily food blog Grub Street’s list of the 50 best burgers in San Francisco. One of the few nonbeef honorees, the Wise Sons burger is made of ground pastrami and topped with beet-horseradish spread, red onion and deli mustard … At 2 p.m. Aug. 10, KQED-TV Channel 9 is replaying the episode of “Check Please! Bay Area” that includes a 2006 trip to Miller’s East Coast Delicatessen in San Francisco. All three guest panelists really liked it … Kehilla Synagogue’s Pop-up Shabbat No. 3 is today, as long as you are reading this on Friday, July 20. It’s a great event, a short outdoor Shabbat service in Oakland, and then you get to (if you want to) eat your dinner from Bites of Broadway, an organized gathering of six food trucks near Oakland Tech high school. Check out some details here: http://kehillasynagogue.org/calendarevents/special-community-pop-up-shabbat-3/
Save room for …
Three items from the did-you-know department:
Fifth Floor restaurant in San Francisco has started serving a cocktail called “Jewish Mother.” It’s made with Bulleit rye whiskey, Navarro pinot noir juice, a bittersweet liqueur called Amaro CioCiaro and black walnut bitters — with gold leaf flecks on top.
At Wimbledon a few weeks ago, tennis fans were able to chow down on hot and cold kosher offerings from a food truck operated by Chabad-Lubavitch of South London.
An ice cream shop in Jaffa, Israel, has begun serving hummus ice cream among its 30 flavors. The owner said it’s created with ground chickpeas, tahini, vanilla, sugar and stabilizers, and that it’s sweet.
Hardly Strictly Bagels runs one Friday each month. For more frequent Jewish food news, follow @andytheohr on Twitter. Send hot tips and out-of-the-way finds to email@example.com.