It’s an inspiration he relegated to back-burner status for decades: the familiar embrace of a Jewish deli.
Restaurateur Burt Rapoport knows that embrace better than most. His grandfather owned a deli for 50 years. His father managed it for many of those years. The lower east Manhattan establishment was home to Rapoport and his family – literally so. They ate most of their meals there, and they lived upstairs.
The vintage Rapoport’s deli was a traditional dairy restaurant, meaning it served no meat but plenty of blintzes, breads, fish dishes and potato soup. This is where a young Burt would grow up (on bowl after bowl of that hearty soup) to be a third-generation restaurateur and an influential figure in Palm Beach County’s hospitality world.
Now the restaurateur behind some top south county concepts (Deck 84, Henry’s, Burt & Max’s and Bogart’s Bar & Grille) has a deli-themed spot on deck in Boca Raton, inspired by those old Manhattan memories.
Rappy’s Deli will open in November, says Rapoport. The newest member of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group will debut in Boca’s new Park Place, a soon-to-open plaza on Military Trail, between Yamato and Clint Moore roads.
“I felt it would be great to go back to my roots,” Rapoport said in an interview this week.
Named after his late father, Ray “Rappy” Rapoport, the new restaurant is more “deli-themed restaurant than classic deli,” he says. He describes the concept as “soulful Jewish food with a modern interpretation.”
The casual spot will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and will boast a 30-foot deli takeout counter as well as a full, indoor-outdoor bar, says Rapoport, who laments that true Jewish delis are few and far between in the country.
But there’s good news to be found amid the “glorified diners with zero atmosphere,” he notes.
“Now you see this resurgence with younger people who are reinventing delis all around the country,” says Rapoport. “So maybe the time is right to do this thing.”
The menu will mesh old school Jewish food with “a lot of fun items,” he says.
Expect franks in a blanket wrapped in puff pastry that’s sprinkled with “everything bagel” seasoning, deli-style sushi in the form of nova-wrapped tuna salad, pastrami spring rolls and house-smoked pastrami dishes. Also on the menu: classic chicken in a pot, corned beef and stuffed cabbage, plus homemade mustard, malts, boozy shakes and sweets.
“We’re taking it up a couple of notches and also hoping to appeal to a broader base,” says Rapoport, whose company was listed this year among Restaurant Hospitality magazine’s annual RH 25 list for “Coolest Multi-Concept Companies.”
With touches of vintage subway tile, stained concrete floors and chalkboard menus, Rappy’s 4300-square-foot space will offer indoor dining as well as alfresco seating in the covered patio.
Rappy’s: Coming in November to Park Place plaza, 5560 N. Military Tr., Boca Raton; RappysDeli.com