Deli Man (Blu-ray Review)

Deli ManAt last, the deli documentary you’ve been waiting for! Erik Greenberg Anjou’s film explores Jewish culture as it reflects the heart of a vital ethnic history. In Houston, Texas, third-generation deli man Ziggy Gruber has built arguably the finest delicatessen restaurant in the U.S, Kenny & Ziggy’s. His story – augmented by the stories of iconic delis such as Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli, Nate ‘n Al, Carnegie, and the Stage – embodies a tradition indelibly linked to its savory, nostalgic foods. Indulge in the deli foods you love and learn about the traditions that make deli one of America’s great cuisines.

Deli Man


Deli Man is an interesting documentary focusing on the Jewish Deli business, history, and folks who are currently running their respective delis passed down several generation. It’s a fascinating tale that shows the history of the delis and of Jewish immigrants bringing their traditions over from the “old country” and settling in New York. At times, and in their prime, there were thousands of Jewish Delis all cover New York and in small concentrated areas almost stacked up against each other.

We fast forward to the present and according the documentary there are only 150 TRUE Jewish owned delis in the United States. The documentary seeks to tell the viewer why delis are special – the mystique, the folks that run them, etc. Our main deli owner is a cool and colorful character by the name of David “Ziggy” Gruber. He’s the 3rd generation owner of a deli in the heart of Houston. He received his training at Le Cordon Bleu and cooked for royalty at certain points in his life but always felt a bond and longing to serve his people. The family deli was that place and he ended up taking the reigns.

Deli Man also features regular deli customers like Larry King, Jerry Stiller, and Fyvush Finkel as they muse about deli life. Their stories along Ziggy’s are the backbone of the film and we do split off from them every once in a while to crisscross the country and visit other delis and to talk to other owners and those that run the business. More often than not it’s a family affair and there’s a certain sense of obligations to keep the business going for simple fear of forgetting one’s traditional roots. The food at the deli is a testament to the bloodline. I enjoyed and found fascinating the segments detailing the business side of running one. That turns into a somber subject when some of the owners bemoan the fact that they don’t make a lot of money and that people would be crazy to get into the deli business either by inheritance or by investing in one. The profit margins apparently suck.

I initially didn’t think I would be affected by the subject matter but the fact that it’s about food would affect anyone and seeing the countless dishes and ways that these dishes are prepared blew my mind. Ziggy is quite the character but he’s humble. His staff is like 90% Latino but he’s in the kitchen side-by-side daily interacting them and he treats them like family. Ziggy, as tough as he is, knows where he comes from and respects his employees and they love him right back. He embodies the mantra of “all for one and one for all.” I’d suggest watching Deli Man on an empty stomach but where’s the fun in that?


Deli Man


Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Deli Man looks great for a documentary. It never looks cheap and it never looks less than film-like.

Depth: Most documentaries look like they’re shot on video but not Deli Man. There’s a nice film grain structure even it was shot on digital – which it probably was.

Black Levels: Crush is not a problem on this Blu-ray release.

Color Reproduction: The color palette was really strong all things considered. Some of the delis are big and bright and the color wheel extends to these settings that can look exotic at times.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looked great.

Noise/Artifacts: A spec here and there but no big deal.


Deli Man


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: This is a very dynamic lossless soundtrack. You will be part of the hustle and bustle of various delis across the country – you’ll feel as though you’re customer – it’s that immersive.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel was not as active on this release but you have to consider the source. It’s not that kind of release.

Surround Sound Presentation: The ambient levels are quite nice as you get to hear restaurant noise, voices, and orders, through the rear speakers. None of that ambient noise ever transfers over to the front.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are crisp and clean.


Deli Man


 There are several extras worthy of note. We have some full length extended interviews that are as good as anything presented in the film itself.

  • Interviews (HD)
  • Sam Brummer’s Story (HD)
  • Ziggy and Dennis Talk Deli (HD)
  • Ziggy Visits ACME (HD)
  • Smoked Fish (HD)
  • Deli Woman: Jacqueline Canter (HD)
  • A Surprise…Meet Izzy (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)


Deli Man


Deli Man was awesome. I knew I was going to get hungry and I’ve already bookmarked some real Jewish delis out here in L.A. to partake in. The food and customs looked splendid and the overall Blu-ray package was cool, too. Deli Man is one of the most entertaining documentaries that I have seen this year. Give it a go and bring your appetite!


Deli Man is available on Blu-ray & DVD!






Deli Man


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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