Magazine / People

Restaurateur Al Belsky gives Denver an authentic taste of New York

Beware the restaurants claiming to be authentic New York delis, says Al Belsky. Most of them aren’t.

“You travel all over the country and you go to different cities and [you see places that] say ‘New York deli’ and they’re not, they’re always crap,” says Belsky (BSBA ’72), owner of the New York Deli News in east Denver. “It’s stuff they buy locally somewhere, or it comes out of California. People come here and they say, ‘Oh it’s the first New York deli that’s really like New York.’”

That’s because Belsky gets his goods directly from the source, importing pastrami, corned beef, rye bread, smoked fish and more from the Manhattan vendors that supply New York’s famed Stage Deli. The New York Deli News — which opens at 7 a.m. every day of the year — draws local foodies and transplanted East Coasters as well as visitors looking for a taste of home.

“I’ve had people that I went to high school with show up here that I didn’t even know were in town,” Belsky says. “Lots of people from my hometown. It’s really funny how that is.”

Belsky caught the restaurant bug early, working as a kid at his parents’ Fashion Luncheonette in New York’s garment district. Belsky and his wife, Victoria (attd. 1970-72), took the Fashion over when his parents retired, but they soon returned to Denver, where they first opened a 3.2 bar called the Pub, followed by a nightclub called Bogart’s, which they owned for 17 years. They opened the New York Deli News in 1989; their son Peter Belsky came on board after getting a degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management from DU in 2008.

“He’s kind of taken us into the 21st century with Facebook and computers and all that kind of stuff,” Al says. “It’s helped a lot.”

While the New York Deli News menu has mostly stayed the same over the years — featured items include chopped liver, herring in sour cream, matzo ball soup, cheese blintzes and grilled frankfurters — Belsky says he has made some concessions to time and place.

“We’ve added a few things I never thought we’d add — we added a veggie sandwich, we added avocado, we have a breakfast burrito that’s really good that we sell a ton of on the weekends,” he says. “You kind of have to go with the flow of where you are.”






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