It’s a question that’s plagued the East Side for what seems like ages, Oy ve, would it kill anybody to have some decent pastrami around here? For an area so rich with Jewish culture, the East Side is tragically devoid of a good, New York-style Jewish deli. I mean, even Framingham, MA has a Jewish deli – but on the East Side of Providence, bupkis.
We’re happy to report, however, that things have just changed for the better. The all new Dok’s Deli on Ives Street (in the former home of United BBQ), while not a full-on Jewish deli, is certainly modeling itself very much in the mold of New York institutions like Katz’s and 2nd Ave Deli. Chef Tyler Doktor is a Boston native, but he grew up on family trips to the classic New York delis and has experience with kosher catering, and he’s intent on solving the Great East Side Pastrami Problem. “I see it as a combination of a gourmet sandwich shop mixed with a New York-style deli,” he explains of his vision, noting that in order to succeed, “You have to have good corned beef and pastrami.”
Doktor, a former Johnson & Wales student who was most recently head chef of Leona’s in North Attleboro, believes he’s got a product that can stack up with the best of them. “My sandwiches aren’t quite as big as Katz’s, but I think the quality of the meat will rival anything this side of New York,” he maintains. A lot of work goes into backing up that tough talk: his house-made pastrami takes roughly three weeks, from brining (two weeks) to desalination to five hours in the smoker he inherited from United BBQ to resting for a week to being steamed and sliced; it’s a “labor of love,” he says.
That smoker is the linchpin of Dok’s operation, as all his meats are carefully sourced (the beef is all Angus) from a local purveyor, and then smoked in-house, including pastrami, turkey, whole chickens for his chicken salad, and, of course, bacon. Attention to detail and commitment to doing things the right way are evident throughout the menu: all the fixings are house-made as well, from the pickles, to the chips or apple cider slaw that accompany the sandwiches, to the Swayze Sauce (a spicy, garlicky mustard) that garnishes the signature Roadhouse sandwich (pastrami, corned beef, bacon and cheddar on sourdough). The produce and dairy are locally sourced, too.
The deli just opened the first week of August, and it’s already evident that this kind of food is in demand. Doktor says he went through 60-70 pounds of corned beef in the first three days, and he’s already had at least one inquiry about wholesaling it. (The meats are available by the pound, deli style.) When football season comes around he plans to pay tribute to the location’s popular former resident by offering pulled pork, chicken and other barbecue items.
So, if you’ve been craving that New York deli taste without the three-hour drive, schlep on over to Ives Street and say “Mazel tov” to the new neighbor – and, like the menu says, “Eat. You’ll feel better.”