Five months after fire shuttered wickedly popular Rosenberg's Bagels and Delicatessen, there's reason to rejoice: The shop at 725 East 26th Avenue (with an entrance on Welton Street) has been rebuilt and will reopen on Sunday, once again doling out its killer New York-style bagels, fish smoked in-house and a few new items.
In the intervening months, Rosenberg's has kept a community presence, both with food and local outreach. It's hosted several pop-ups at the Source, and donated the proceeds to charities that serve the Five Points neighborhood. It's also engaged in park rebuilding and community gardens in the vicinity, and done some food drives. "That was the big silver lining of this horrible incident," says owner Josh Pollack. "We've had time to engage in giving back."
There's another silver lining: The forced hiatus gave Pollack time to work on his products. Pollack has always relied on his obsessive tendencies to guide his recipes and business; he famously reconfigures his water so that it mimics New York tap — because, he says, the mineral content has a real effect on the finished bagel. It's probably no surprise, then, that he's spent the past several months poring over his recipes, and he'll be introducing new fish products as well as new corned beef and pastrami once the doors of Rosenberg's reopen. "We continue to innovate and do new things, because we don’t want customers to get stagnant and bored, and I don’t want my chefs to get stagnant," Pollack says.
On the seafood side, Rosenberg's has long smoked its own fish; now, it'll roll out new products like pastralmon — a pastrami-like smoked salmon — and a whitefish salad made from Colorado-raised trout and bass. "I care about the ecosystem, and it's hard when you're talking about fish to stay local," says the owner. This is an opportunity to do that, even as he'll continue to bring in salmon and cod for his lox and sable.
As for the beef, Pollack says he'll be making the deli's corned beef and pastrami according to the method used by legendary New York City sandwich shop Katz's, which means every batch will be smoked, steamed and hand-carved. "I'm super excited about the beef," he says. "We're using grass-finished beef from New York, from the source Katz’s and Carnegie used to use. I started with the finished product and said, 'Where do they get the beef?'"
Beyond the resurrection of Rosenberg's, there are more big developments for Pollack and his crew. We've mentioned before that a Rosenberg's will open in Stanley Marketplace in December, debuting with the same offerings currently on the list downtown. But Pollack says the new location also has space for his team to expand into dinner service in the future. "You see with concepts in New York like the Russ & Daughters Cafe and Mile End that the appetizing concept [the common name of the dining category that Rosenberg's is part of] can be an evening food," he says. "We'll expand the menu into Jewish cooked meals, like brisket."
And we've also noted that Pollack is in the process of inking a deal to take over the Bagel Store, a kosher bagel shop over on Monaco that Pollack says will remain kosher. "The Bagel Store is an institution, and it has a demographic that’s in line with what I want to serve," he explains. "It's kosher, which is a big undertaking, and there is lots of room for growth as we merge." That location will not offer the sandwiches doled out by the Five Points location; rather, it'll focus on wholesale business, which Pollack says gives a nice option for customers who don't want to wait in line just to buy bulk bagels. And he's not sure exactly what that location will be called, as a rabbi must give the name a final blessing and determine that it's different enough from the Rosenberg's downtown that kosher customers won't get confused and think they can get kosher offerings in Five Points.
As if that weren't enough, Pollack is also moving full steam ahead on two additional projects under a newly formed company called the Bridge and Tunnel restaurant group. Once Stanley Marketplace is open, he plans to start building out an Italian deli called Lou's Italian Specialties in the old Las Brasas space at 3357 Downing Street. That spot will be sandwich-forward, he says, with traditional Italian subs, but it will also offer grab-and-go and grocery components that define Italian delis in New York City. "We'll make mozzarella and burrata in-house daily, we'll do in-house pasta, and you'll be able to come get meats and cheeses. We're toying around with produce, and then we'll do a ton of retail — some, like the pickles and giardiniera I want to experiment with, we'll do in-house." They eventually may also do housemade charcuterie, but that's on the back burner, Pollack says, because there are plenty of Colorado chefs already making top-notch product.
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And finally, Pollack is making good on his promise to use his reconfigured water to make pizza dough, opening Famous Original Ray's Pizza via a food window at the 715 Club next to Rosenberg's. "This will be traditional East Coast-style pizza," he says. "You'll be able to get it by the slice or in whole pies, and we'll do stuff like mozzarella sticks and meatballs — you know, snacks for families or late-nighters." Pizzas will cook in Rosenberg's five-deck rotating oven and then be carried over to 715 to be rewarmed, just as it's done at slice shops in New York.
Famous Original Ray's is also a joke aimed at New Yorkers: There are dozens of pizza shops in the Big Apple named Famous Original Ray's, none of which are related to each other, and none of which are actually the original, which has closed. "We are actually the Original Ray's of Denver," laughs Pollack.
Look for 2017 openings on both of those concepts.
As for Rosenberg's, it will return to its regular business hours, operating Tuesday through Sunday from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m.