Late Summer Bites and Pieces: A Visit to Ben’s Kosher Deli

A delicious Jewish deli meal at Ben’s Kosher Deli in Scarsdale: pastrami sandwiches on challah rolls, matzo ball soup with noodles, kasha varnishkes, French fries, coleslaw and a cream soda.

By Morris Gut

With the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approaching, I thought it would be nice to have a good old-fashioned meal loaded with memories at Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen on Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale. They had been closed for a while during the pandemic.

For me, it’s the stuff I grew up with. My soul food. There were many Jewish restaurants and delis back then in New York City and the nearby suburbs, but over the years they have been in decline.

Every time I sit down at a Jewish deli it brings back many fond memories of friends and family sharing this special larder with gusto. To me, there is nothing like a tasty knish or kosher hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut. I was looking forward to it.

Founder Ronald Dragoon opened his first Ben’s in 1972 on Long Island. Today there are seven locations. We pulled into the restaurant’s parking area on an early weekday afternoon. There was an enclosed seating area outside, but we opted for a table in the dining room.

The place was quiet, and the staff greeted us cheerfully as soon as we came through the door. Right now, with COVID-19 guidelines in place, you must access their extensive menu on your phone. Our waitress brought us complementary platters of coleslaw and sweet and sour pickles. A glass of Baron Herzog Chardonnay and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda kicked it up a notch. We started to indulge immediately.

It took a little while, but we finally decided to fill the rest of our table with a big bowl of matzo ball soup with noodles, overstuffed deli double sandwiches with tender and tasty corned beef and pastrami on soft challah rolls and sides of kasha varnishkes and crinkled French fries. I was in foodie heaven! Every bite evoked the flavors of my childhood.

Right now, Ben’s is offering a variety of catering packages by advanced order for the Jewish holidays. Check the website.

Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen is located at 718 Central Park Ave. in Scarsdale. Open Tuesday through Sunday. Special holiday hours; check ahead. Take-out and delivery available. Free parking. Info 914-468-2367 or visit www.bensdeli.net.

The food truck park 9AEATS on Route 9A in Elmsford.

9AEats Food Truck Park Opens

Westchester’s first food truck park has opened on Route 9A in Elmsford on the site of the former Red Fox Diner, just off I-287. 9AEATS is still a work in progress, but backers hope to offer the public a tasty cross-section of food trucks from around the region on a rotating basis.

We stopped by 9AEATS on a recent Sunday afternoon and found it fairly busy. Family groups filled the colorful picnic tables. It is not as large a space as I had anticipated. Alas, the only truck serving this day was Walter’s Hot Dogs.

During its opening weekend, participating trucks included Doughnation, Off the Hook, Wrapper’s Delight, Poke Motion, Road Grub, Pizza Vitale, Abeetz, Mac’s, Latusion and Longsford Ice Cream. In coming weeks, appearing on a rotating basis, you may enjoy The Fried Chicken, Bazodee Street Food, Gyro Uno, Graziella Italian Kitchen, Westchester Burger and Bona Bona Ice Cream.

There is free parking and a narrow road in and out. There were small bottles of hand sanitizer and 9AEATs stickers at the reception table. Tables were immediately wiped down as patrons left. An owner on the premises said there would be a daily posting on the website listing which food trucks will be on hand on a daily basis.

By the way, while there we shared a couple of Walter’s Flat Dogs with mustard and it was a retro-treat. Plans are for an indoor dining pavilion with party facilities down the line.

9AEATS is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rain or shine. Info: Visit www.9aeats.com.

A view into the chocolate factory at Mast Chocolates in Mount Kisco.

Artsy Chocolate in Mount Kisco

The Mast brothers moved their company, Mast Chocolates, from Brooklyn to Mount Kisco about a year ago. They took over a one-story building along South Moger Avenue, not far from the Metro-North train station, which they remodeled into a manufacturing facility, market and café featuring the Mast product line.

We had read recently in The New York Times that they partnered with the Metropolitan Museum of Art by combining a line of their artisanal chocolates with artworks selected from the museum’s collection as part of a fundraiser. A portion of the sales go to the museum. A masterful proposition that made me want to visit.

We arrived in Mount Kisco early on a Sunday afternoon, and as we pulled up our anticipation grew. The façade looked inviting. The designers had given the entryway a carriage house look. There were some active tables outside.

Once inside, our eyes were immediately drawn to a large window that allows for a into the chocolate processing area where big gleaming silver urns of liquid chocolate were in constant motion, whirring in circles. There is a comfortable lounge and seating area and a coffee bar with the day’s menu overhead. Their house-roasted coffees, teas, chocolates and pastries were on display. Below the counter there was a lovely selection of artsy cake and pie platters. The colorful new Metropolitan Museum of Art gift selections were on display on a side wall along with more of their line.

The store manager was helpful with our questions. We left with two of their popular chocolate bars – almond butter and hazelnut. It made for a fine indulgence during our Sunday outing.

Mast Market + Café is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: Visit www.mastchocolate.com.

Making a mouthwatering homemade lobster dinner these days is reasonably priced.

Lobster at Home – Rediscovered

I recently wrote about the dramatic increase in home cooking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns about dining out are still running high, so what did people do? They have rediscovered their home kitchens and their cooking skills. It has been a tasty revelation.

In lieu of our annual trips to Maine, our latest home kitchen indulgence has been lobster. For most of the summer season, the price of Maine lobster has been down due, in part, to the pandemic. Food markets in Westchester have been selling lobster for $6.99 per pound on average, up to one-and-a-quarter pounds, and a bit more for a pound-and-a-half or more. We have taken advantage.

Our preferred preparation is a simple boil in a big lobster pot with perhaps some potatoes and fresh corn. Our outdoor grill is always ready, too. Melted butter or a good aioli for dipping on the side, of course. We might even treat ourselves to extra shellfish such as clams or mussels, even a piece of beef for an old-fashioned surf and turf. It is simple to do and always turns out great. The internet is loaded with easy lobster recipes.

Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at 914-235-6591 or at gutreactions@optonline.net.

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