Carnegie Deli, the iconic Midtown Manhattan delicatessen whose sandwiches were as outsized as its New York kitsch, will be closing for good. The New York Post reports that the restaurant, opened in 1937, will shutter after December 31.
In a city where you once couldn’t throw a rock and not hit a Jewish deli, Carnegie became known for its jaw-unhinging pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. But it was as much about the food (its cheesecakes were also legendary) as the New Yorkness the restaurant exuded. The walls inside are lined with glossy 8x10 photos of celebrities and semi-celebrities; its waitstaff brusque and sarcastic. Names of dishes were unapologetically pun-happy: Tongues for the Memory, Fifty Ways to Love Your Liver, George Shrimpton.
It was the first New York deli visited by David Sax, author of the James Beard Award-winning Save The Deli: In Search Of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, And The Heart Of Jewish Delicatessen. He said it’s the restaurant “people dream of when they think of New York.”
Sax added: “Hearing about the impending closure of the Carnegie deli is akin to receiving the news that your favorite grandparent has days to live. It is both heart-breaking and unimaginable. The Carnegie is Jewish deli in America, more than just a restaurant or a place to get gigantic pastrami sandwiches. The kitsch made the food taste better. It was a full body, heart and soul experience. Which is why the attempts at franchising around the country never worked out. It’s all in those cramped, sweaty walls, jostling with locals, tourists, and the ghost of NYC past.”
Carnegie Deli owner Marian Harper Levine told the Post: “I’m very sad to close the Carnegie Deli but I’ve reached the time of my life when I need to take a step back.