Taste Test: Mark McEwan throws T.O.'s smoked meats in the ring for a Deli Battle Royale

T.O.'s pastrami and smoked meat stalwarts go head to head


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L-R: McEwan’s top T.O. pick, Rose and Sons deli vs. Montreal's Schwartz's

With the recent demise of Caplansky’s deli, we asked chef Mark McEwan to size up T.O.’s remaining pastrami and smoked meat stalwarts.

Bonus: we pitted chef McEwan’s number one pick against Montreal legend Schwartz’s. En garde! 

WINNER
ROSE AND SONS
“Wow, look at that. Hand-cut, good rye bread. That’s actually a very good pastrami sandwich (pictured, above left). Really good flavour and you can tell they’re doing it on their own,” says McEwan.
176 Dupont St., $13

RUNNER-UP
CENTRE STREET DELI

“This is hand cut. That’s always a good sign. The meat quality is very good, and the pickle was very good, and the bread was fresh,” says McEwan.
1136 Centre St., $10.75

FATTY AND DELICIOUS
PANCER’S ORIGINAL DELI
“This one is much fattier, and I tend to like it fatty when it’s hot,” says McEwan of the smoked meat sandwich. 
3856 Bathurst. St., $10.15

A PILE OF PASTRAMI
YITZ’S DELI

“I don’t like this rye bread,” says McEwan, as he prefers the more traditional variety on the other sandwiches. “The pastrami is a little dry on this sandwich as well. I don’t love the look of it,” he says. 346 Eglinton Ave. W., $7.75

DOUBLE THE RYE
WOLFIE’S DELI
“This one is interesting. They have doubled up the pieces of rye bread on each end of the sandwich. The bread itself is also very thinly sliced,” says McEwan, adding, “It also has a good pickle.”
670 Sheppard Ave. W., $9.96  

GO BIG OR GO HOME
KATZ’S DELI
“This is a big sandwich. The meat is machine sliced. The rye bread is pretty consistent. The sandwich is almost a little too big,” says McEwan. “And the pickle is a little on the garlicky side.” 
3300 Dufferin St., $9.95

A GOOD-LOOKING LUNCH
ZELDEN’S DELI

“This is machine sliced. It looks nice, and the bread looks good. That’s a pretty good sandwich, but the pickle is tiny,” says McEwan of this smoked meat sandwich on rye. 
1446 Yonge St., $12.25 including a pickle and coleslaw


T.O. VS. MTL

We made the pilgrimage to Montreal to fetch sliced smoked meat and a loaf of rye direct from Schwartz’s to see how it stacks up against McEwan’s top T.O. pick, Anthony Rose’s new Rose and Sons deli. 

The winner in this head-to-head taste test was (drum roll please...) Toronto’s latest deli. 

In your face, Montreal! 

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