Not Your Grandma's Deli: Rye Deli & Drink Debuts In The West Loop

Fiona Good-Sirota | March 8, 2021 | Food & Drink Feature

Serving up delectably creative twists on Jewish delicatessen classics, Rye Deli & Drink makes an impressive debut in the West Loop.

The perfect pastrami sandwich
The perfect pastrami sandwich

The traditional Jewish delicatessen undergoes an innovative twist at Rye Deli & Drink. From the minds of chef Billy Caruso and general manager Jeremy Vass, this West Loop spot smoke-cures beloved classics while reinventing the modern deli with an atmosphere that welcomes every customer like family.

Rye Deli & Drink’s take on a “Chicago bagel”
Rye Deli & Drink’s take on a “Chicago bagel” means handmade bagels are first boiled, then baked, and made from stone-milled organic grains and a brasetto rye starter that adds a candied flavor to the dough.

The restaurant’s signature artisanal bagels with heirloom wheat, eight-hour cold-smoked salmon and pastrami made in-house are tempting classics among its handmade and locally sourced dishes. Health-minded and high on flavor, the deli’s spreads are made with labneh (handstrained Greek yogurt) and blended with a diverse array of flavors such as melted leek, honey fava bean with preserved lemon, charred strawberry and burnt eggplant—each specially crafted to pair perfectly with the bagels.

Vass’ and Caruso’s sommelier backgrounds have inspired a multifaceted beverage program, complete with seasonal cocktails designed to be served individually or for a group; beer offerings that include eight draft lines and local, craft, seasonal and rare brews; and an extensive wine selection carefully curated from notable wineries.

A signature brik
Savory snacks like the signature brik are meant to be shared.

While old-school favorites like Reuben sandwiches and bagels with lox have a spot on the menu, the most eclectic items here are seasonally colored matzo balls (think purple for spring); signature Tunisian brik with fingerling potatoes, thyme, dill, a crispy crepe pastry shell and free-range eggs; and Persian fava bean kuku, a baked omelet with herbs and seasonal vegetables. The verdict? A refreshing addition to the West Loop’s buzzing dining scene. 25 S. Halsted St.,

A Jerusalem burger
A Jerusalem burger with pita, dill aioli, tomatoes, feta cheese and watercress


Chef Billy Caruso dishes on the secrets behind deli success.

The secret to the perfect sandwich: One reason our sandwiches are so unique is that we take the time to make sure the bread is perfectly toasted on both sides. We’re not using a conveyor belt toaster or quick convection oven. We toast the bread—slice by slice—in clarified butter on our plancha to ensure it’s super crispy and to create a contrast to the rich tender pastrami and corned beef.

On the spring menu: The Big Easy is our newest creation, debuting this spring. It’s essentially pancakes meet bagels—an egg-enriched bagel with bourbon maple syrup, cinnamon and caramelized sugar crust. Imagine pain perdu, but in a bagel. We’re currently working with Janie’s Mill to incorporate some additional ancient grains and heirloom corn varieties into new flavors.”

Tags: food

Photography by: Neil Burger