Deli Man Blu-ray Review
As the son of mixed parents (Jewish mother/Catholic father) I’ve seen the good and bad of both worlds. One of the best on the Jewish side was the trips to the local delicatessen to order the most delicious sandwiches and bakery around. As I grew older, and moved around the country, I always kept my eyes open for a good Kosher deli. How do you know you’re in a Kosher deli? When you ask for cheese on your corned beef you get the look of death from the man behind the counter! Remember…no mixing meat and dairy.
One man who grew up loving delis was David Gruber, known to his friends as Ziggy. Ziggy grew up working alongside his grandfather in his deli and eventually took over the business. He now runs one of the most successful delis in the country. The fact that the deli is located in Houston, Texas is just one of the remarkable things learned in the new film DELI MAN.
As the film begins we learn that, in the 1940s, there were over 2,000 delicatessens in the five boroughs of New York. Sadly, today, there are only four left in Manhattan. I’m proud to say that I’ve been to three of them, including Katz’s Deli, probably best known for being featured during the “I’ll have what she’s having,” scene in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. I also used to visit the world famous Stage Deli and Carnegie Deli when I visited New York. Sadly, the Stage Deli had to close because of the price of its rent. The film notes that the remaining four delis in New York probably only remain because the owners of the restaurant also own the property it stands on. Last I’d heard the Carnegie is still open, though they were closed for a while after the city of New York discovered that the restaurant was stealing a lot of the gas they were using for cooking and heating.
Besides interviews with Ziggy, the film talks with long-time deli aficionados like Jerry Stiller, Fyvus Finkle and Larry King and we learn about the deli adventures of such celebrities as Zero Mostel and Henny Youngman, who I actually met one night about midnight at…wait for it…the Carnegie Deli. While other deli owners are interviewed, the main focus in the film is on Ziggy and the love he gives to his food, his restaurant and his customers. The film also explores Ziggy’s own love adventure as a woman he meets by chance becomes an important part of his life.
Visually the film is beautiful. I wouldn’t recommend watching it on an empty stomach. Watching the mountains of pastrami, corned beef and brisket being prepared and served on heaping sandwiches is almost cruelty if you’re hungry. Delis from all over the country are highlighted, as is the news that their numbers are dwindling. It’s certainly a niche business, but a delicious one. If you have one by you I recommend you pick yourself up a sandwich and give this film a watch. You won’t regret it, except for a little heartburn.
Video: Presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio, the film is sharp and clear. The shots of the various food items will have you drooling in your living room.
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds good on either.
Interviews (40:50): Great, longer conversations with some of the people already featured in the film, including Jerry Stiller and Larry King.
Sam Brummer’s Story (3:51): A fun look at the founder of one of the country’s best delis, Hobby’s, in Newark, New Jersey.
Ziggy and Dennis Talk Deli (5:14): Ziggy and his business partner discuss the fun parts of the business.
Ziggy Visits ACME Smoked Fish (5:54): A longer scene then what is featured in the film shows Ziggy buying fish.
Deli Woman: Jacqueline Canter (2:19): A look at one of the Deli Women, the owner of Los Angeles’ Canter’s Deli, which I will be visiting next month!
A Surprise…Meet Izzy (6:59): One of the more touching extras I’ve ever seen takes us inside the naming ceremony for Ziggy’s new daughter, Isabele.