Fine and Shapiro
Noticing that I was interviewing the owner during the summer of 2015, a visiting regular proclaimed, “They’ve got the best rye bread in New York!” Open since 1927, Fine & Schapiro is the oldest kosher deli in the city, serving loyal customers that span two to three generations.
The employees are loyal as well. Their chef, Tony, joined the establishment over thirty years ago as a dishwasher, working his way up. Anthony, who works behind the counter, has been with Fine & Schapiro for “twenty-eight, twenty-nine years.” A waitress laughed when we asked how long she had been working there. “Oh… a few years.” Owners David and Edward purchased the kosher restaurant from their friends Fine and Schapiro in the early nineties, and David credits their success and longevity to hard work and dedication. They are open daily (yes, even Saturdays) from ten in the morning until ten in the evening, and one of the owners is on site at all times. “We try to run this business, how do you call it? Mom and pop,” David told us in his Russian accent.
When a friend or family member comes to visit me, they inevitably request a fabulous New York deli sandwich at some point during their stay. It is always easy for me to comply, as I do not believe there are many other places that can compete with Fine and Schapiro. David proudly announced, “people tell me it’s the best matzo ball soup in the city.” Their pastrami and corned beef are also legendary. David attributes the food’s popularity to the fact that most items on the menu, including the oft-requested chicken in a pot, are made in-house. “It would be easier to tell you what we buy,” David said, listing pickles, coleslaw, and macaroni salad as some of the only menu items not made by his team.
David was also eager to share that “Visiting Mr. Green,” starring famous New Yorker Eli Wallach, featured Fine & Shapiro bags in their New York production, and when the show played in London, the bags made the trip across the Atlantic along with the crew. For a true New York experience, settle in at one of the restaurant’s front booths for a glimpse of the show’s poster, chat with employees who can talk about what the neighborhood used to be like, and indulge in a bowl of soup, a sandwich, and of course, a Diet Dr. Brown’s creme soda.