March 9, 2006
I woke up Sunday morning with every intention of going to Pie Girl for brunch. After hearing so many wonderful comments on the quality and selection of quiches, soups, and sweet pies, I could hardly wait to visit the little shop on West Seneca Street. You can imagine my disappointment when I pulled into the abandoned, snow-covered parking lot and read “In Texas until June” on the door.
Rather than giving up, I asked my native Ithacan friend for advice. She suggested trying Hal’s, the only Jewish deli in Ithaca. I was perplexed. Almost four years in Ithaca, and I had never heard of such a place – sounded like an adventure to me!
This hidden jewel of a deli is located on Aurora Street, just a few doors away from Viva Taqueria. Hal’s opened in 1961 and represents one of the few restaurants in Ithaca run by its original owners. Running a Jewish deli in Ithaca isn’t as simple as a normal diner or sandwich shop. Hal’s bread hails from Syracuse – the crusty, deli-quality rye bread necessary for a decent pastrami or Reuben sandwich can’t be found anywhere in Ithaca. Additionally, Hal’s meats have to be shipped from New York City. As Hal’s daughter says, “It isn’t easy running a kosher deli in the middle of Upstate!” It might not be easy, but the quality of ingredients is worth it.
Like in any self-respecting deli, the massive display case full of meat and cheese seduces customers upon entry. Hal’s has plenty of seating, and each table is adorned with the standard glass bottle of ketchup, white sugar container and cup of brown mustard. The five-page menu includes breakfast and lunch items, all ranging from $2-$7. Service was speedy and super friendly. Our food was plated less than ten minutes after we ordered.
Ithaca boasts plenty of great Sunday brunch spots, most of which serve omelets with filling ranging from avocado to tofu. But Hal’s is the only place in this vegetarian-loving town that will serve an omelet filled with corned beef or pastrami. The side dishes are equally wonderful. I ran into an acquaintance who told me a sad story about craving a Hal’s knish so badly that he hiked all the way from Cornell in the snow only to discover that they were sold out. After sinking my teeth into the crispy outer crust and basking in the smooth, onion-infused filling of this traditional potato dish, I understood: Hal’s serves up one of the best knishes I’ve ever tasted. The miniature potato pancakes, or latkes, are equally delicious and impossible to pass up. Unlike the knish, which is like a fried mashed potato, the potato pancake is shredded potato melded together with flour and egg, and flavored with onion and other seasonings. This was definitely not your average mashed up tater tot. Finally, a restaurant outside of New York that serves potato pancakes the way my dad makes them!
I recommend ordering one of Hal’s special sandwiches, such as the Howie (corned beef), roast beef, or pastrami, all served with a fat dill pickle and chips or fries. Normally, I won’t touch a Reuben with a ten-foot pole, but the Reuben at Hal’s was amazing. The corned beef had just the right chewy texture and flavor and wasn’t as salty as most. If you order a turkey sandwich, keep in mind that Hal’s uses smoked turkey, which tends to have the smooth consistency of a package of Healthy Choice rather than the more textured oven roasted version. Triple-decker sandwiches with heart-attack inducing mixes of pastrami, corned beef, chopped liver, and salami add the finishing touch to a menu chock-full of deli delights.
In addition to the tempting menu, friendly wait staff, and convenient location, Hal’s also offers delivery service and accepts CityBucks. Can eating downtown get any easier for a Cornell student? Keep in mind that you won’t find a Jewish deli unless you’re willing to drive two hours to Rochester or Albany. I’d much rather walk the ten minutes down Buffalo Street for a knish.
Archived article by Anna Fishman
March 9, 2006
In a stunning combination of cronyism and self-aggrandizement, Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman sat down with recently deposed and oft-embattled Sun Sports Editor Chris Mascaro. He apologizes in advance.
1. So, Beef – may I call you “Beef?”
Yeah, Beef. Definitely Beef.
Because up until recently, I’ve only called you “Boss.” I think I’m the only person who’s really ever been nice to you around here.
Yeah, I don’t get much respect from these [people].
Where does the nickname “Beef” come from?
It was actually my pledge name.
Are you allowed to divulge such sensitive information?
Probably not. Let’s just say that it was supposed to be “Snuggles.”
Supposed to be? Did you fall asleep sucking your thumb or something?
No, all the guys thought that I was cute and cuddly, so, you know.
Well, you are cute and cuddly.
I am, aren’t I?
So, the “Beef” thing just sort of spiraled out from there?
Yeah, it was actually “Big Beefy.” But I really don’t want to get into it.
I can’t get into it on the record.
You can’t talk about it? I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you! Do you realize how much junk you’ve green-lighted from me over the past couple of years? My mother doesn’t even read the paper anymore!
No, I can’t do it! I can’t green-light this!
You’re disappointing me.
I just can’t. There’s nothing I can do. It’s too disgusting.
Do you realize what you’ve done? You’ve put “Big Beefy,” “Snuggles” and the fact that you’re in a fraternity out there, and by not commenting further you’re allowing people to decide for themselves.
It’s pretty bad. I’ll just leave it at Beef. That’s that.
2. You have been in the unique position of seeing Cornell Athletics from both sides of the aisle – as a reporter/editor and as a varsity athlete. Do you feel that each of your experiences helped to enrich the other?
When I got here, I actually talked to people from The Sun and I was like, “yeah, I kind of want to cover sprint football,” not knowing that it would end up being a huge conflict of interest.
Your brother was on the team at the time, wasn’t he?
Yeah, my brother was on the team. I knew he was going to be playing, so I thought covering it would be cool. But because I started playing, when I interviewed the guys I knew what it was like, both on the field and in the locker room. I learned that with athletes, what they tell us isn’t just cut and dry, in terms of quotes.
Do you feel that because you were a varsity athlete, other coaches and teams treated you differently? Were they more honest with you, because you’d “been there?”
I don’t know. I’d like to think so. For example, I was talking to Ryan Kuhn when we were taking his cover photo for the Football Supplement. He asked me how the sprint football team was doing. That was cool, I guess. But other than that, it’s pretty normal. I think they respect me just because of my job more than anything else.
Just because you were the Sports Editor?
Yeah, which is good.
But now, you’re merely a civilian.
I’m like a normal human. I’m bored out of my mind, I have nothing to do. It sucks.
3. You’ve been described as the “vaunted third-down running back” for the sprint football team.
Yeah, I was “The Bus.” Except the problem was that Bettis would usually get the first downs on third and one, and I would usually lose three yards. And then we’d have to punt. So, what are you going to do? I think my career yards per carry is something like 1.6 or 1.7, something in that range.
Hey, that’s in the black. It’s only about four yards off Jim Brown. You’re doing okay.
I was more of a moral booster on the team.
You were the Kevin Millar of Cornell sprint football?
Yeah, I’d keep everybody loose, get everybody laughing. Coach liked to make fun of me, so it was good.
I can’t imagine you being the butt of anyone’s joke. I just can’t.
Oh, no. Absolutely not. Of course. It’s not like I’m from Long Island or anything.
When I talked to Jon Amoona, he mentioned that there are only so many Long Islanders allowed on the team at any one time.
Yeah, there’s a quota. I think me and Jon were just about enough. We were a little ridiculous. I think we had the two biggest heads on the team, even though he was good and I wasn’t. But, whatever.
It’s all about perceived glory. As long as you were great in your own mind, you’re all set.
Hey, I had my two touchdowns.
Against Princeton no less.
Princeton is kind of like – I think I played better teams during high school jayvee, but hey. They’re a little pompous, but we beat them into submission enough times that they know their role.
We have a better paper than they do, too.
Yeah, I want to say I could kick the ass of any other Sports Editor in the Ivy League. I’m throwing that out there, if you want to come challenge me, bring it on.
Way to through down the gauntlet there, Chief.
Hey, you know what? I might be small, but I’ve got some fight in me.
He’s not kidding.
We should have done this interview drunk.
Frankly, there’s still time.
4. For better or for worse, what you are most (in)famous for as Sun Sports Editor was your final column of the 2005 fall semester, in which you threw our hockey fans down a flight of stairs. You said they were “lame” and had “no lives.”
I might have said “assholes.” Who knows?
Right. I think some of us saw where you were going with it, but more than anything else we feared for your life. I was convinced you’d be assassinated at the next home game.
You know what it is? And I wrote this in the article, but I have nothing but respect for the hockey team. Hockey is great. The team is great.
You’ve covered them for years.
Absolutely. And I think the fans have the right to cheer and whatever, but I think they go a little overboard, and I’m sticking with what I said. Most of them are pretty weak, overall.
We were waiting for the cowbell guy to use your head instead of his usual bell.
I think rather than spending 10 hours a day on the eLynah forum, they should get out and have a beer or something. That’s what I think.
It’s nice to hear you sticking to your guns, because a lot of people would take this opportunity to recant. But not you.
Hey, I’ll be there at all the ECAC games this weekend. So if they want to cheer or bitch or whatever, so be it. I’ll be there.
Did you get any flak from the team? Did people come up to you and spit in your face or anything? Because the online feedback to your column shorted out the server.
I didn’t get anything from the players. I heard some people grumbling about it, but nothing really. I kind of laid low, though. I skipped that last weekend of games before break.
That might have been a good move. I think someone made T-shirts.
I feel like there might have been a cheer. I feel like there may or may not have been some “Mascaro Sucks!” shirts floating around.
May or may not?
Yeah, I heard a lot of different things.
I think things have kind of died down now. But this will probably bring it all back into the light.
That’s what I’m here for.
Yeah, go into the playoffs with a bang, as they say.
5. You’re a fan, an athlete and a supposedly non-biased journalist. How do you separate your love for Cornell sports from the job you have to do?
It’s hard, it’s hard. And it’s also, I think, harder for us as students because we know the athletes and we’re friends with them. There’s a balance there, too. It’s tough. Obviously, you can’t cheer for your guys from the press box, and you want to have balanced reporting. But at the same time, you know, I was at the men’s basketball game when we played Syracuse and I was getting rowdy in the stands. It’s a give and take, I guess. You try to stay impartial as much as you can, but you’re still a student and you want to see your school win.
Has there ever been an instance where you’ve sat on a story or changed its angle to protect a Cornell athlete?
No. I never wanted it to be a love-fest for the athletes.
Well, it certainly wasn’t a love-fest with the hockey fans.
I think most of us prided ourselves on balanced reporting. If a team was screwing up, we’d write about it. And if a team was kicking ass, we’d write about that, too. So, I think we did a pretty good job in that regard.
I’ll agree with that. But then, I’m biased.
6. What do you think of the new Sports Editor? She’s a girl.
Yeah, we brought that up at the elections, that she didn’t have a [deleted]. I’m not going to lie, it was a concern.
Elections? She ran unopposed.
But then, we also brought up the fact that she could probably kick my ass.
Hasn’t she schooled you in basketball? Didn’t she take you apart piece-by-piece?
Not only that, but she’s also thrown me into snowdrifts on several occasions. But I’m comfortable with it. She’s a little bit of a hick, so I don’t know if I’m down with that, but she’ll be okay.
The only potential problem I can see is that she really only knows college basketball. You and I can sit down, as we have on many occasions, and talk about anything – Sox/Yankees, the Knicks, football, even boxing.
Wait until the Lynah Faithful get a piece of her. She won’t know the difference between a red line and a pink line.
She’s reading this right now and saying, “pink line? What’s a pink line?”
7. You were a varsity athlete, a member of the Greek system and a Sun editor, which is a 15-credit class in and of itself. How did you balance these three huge commitments? Did you ever go to class?
As my friends can attest, I’ve never really gone to class. School’s just not my thing. I was more into the extra-curriculars. Even in high school – I played sports every season, I played the tuba in the freaking marching band.
You played the tuba? That thing’s as big as you are! Did you crawl inside and take naps?
I was in Boy Scouts, I was in all kinds of stuff. School was always kind of low on the priority list.
You were a Boy Scout? So was I. For Slope Day, do you want to go pitch a tent and have a cookout?
I think I’ll get drunk on Slope Day.
Well, I suppose that’s another option. But you don’t go to class?
My grades have improved, though.
You are, in fact, going to graduate this semester?
I hope so. Actually, wait. Don’t print that, or my parents will flip out. I’m definitely graduating.
Fear not, Mr. and Mrs. Mascaro, your boy is fine.
My Mom’s going to read this at work and she’s going to flip out and call me in about two minutes.
Do you have plans for the future? I’ve heard that you’re looking at journalism school at Columbia.
Wow, we’re putting this all out there, aren’t we?
I think your plan for graduate school is the most non-offensive thing we’ve discussed so far.
Everybody is going to ask me now about whether I got in. I probably won’t.
You haven’t heard back?
Not until April. I did apply, though. We’ll see what happens. I want to get into journalism, but I feel like it’s a tough field to break into. If all else fails, maybe I can cover the Lynah Faithful for the rest of my life.
8. What is your favorite sport to watch?
I’ve got to say baseball. I watch or listen on the radio to ninety-nine percent of all the Yankees games.
Clear something up for me – Michael Kay is an idiot, right?
You’ve gotta like the “See ya!” call for the home runs.
No, I don’t “gotta” like anything Michael Kay says. But I can see how that’s the least revolting part of his persona.
Okay, Michael Kay is an idiot, but the worst is when David Justice does the color. He’s miserable. Kaat’s okay, but David Justice is the worst.
At least Kaat has some insightful pitching commentary.
Exactly. The only good thing about David Justice is that he used to be married to Halle Berry.
Yes, but the operative phrase there is “used to be.”
What happened there? How do you screw that up? He doesn’t have much going for him in life.
Did you see her during the Oscars last Sunday?
Yeah, she was hot. That’s another sport I like – watching.
Women. Women’s anything. I actually got really into the figure skating during the Olympics.
Yes, you have an obscenely unhealthy obsession with Sasha Cohen.
I shouldn’t say this, but –
Why stop now?
Normally, I’m more of a boob guy –
On second thought, stop now.
9. Let’s get this over with: are you happy with the Johnny Damon signing?
You and I have talked about this plenty of times, but I still remember him putting that grand slam in the seats in Game 7. A lot of people hate him, but as soon as he hits a big one off Timlin or one of those other Boston idiots, I’ll learn to like him.
You don’t think the Red Sox pitchers know how to get this guy out?
Definitely not. He’s smacks at the ball, he’s a big pest. I think between him and Sheffield, the Yankees are going to set a record for foul balls this season.
And between him and Bernie Williams, they’re going to set the record for most throws to second base requiring a relay man. What about the pitching?
I think the pitching is going to be just fine.
You said that last year.
Last year, everybody got hurt. Pavano’s hurt right now, but he’ll be back. He’ll be good. I have faith in Johnson and Mussina to give me one last go around. And then we’ll pick up somebody big. But, you know, we’ll have to rely on the role guys again, like Jaret Wright, Shawn Chacon, and Aaron Small.
Rely on the role guys? Let me get you used to a phrase that I think you’ll find relevant: “Inevitable and catastrophic regression to the mean.”
Mike Lowell! Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez! That’s two names I’ve got for you!
Hey, that’s a Gold Glove left side of the infield.
Yeah, and you might get a combined 20 home runs and a .220 average!
Look, I’ve told you this – you and I could bat five and six in the Red Sox lineup and they’d still score 900 runs. It’s all about Manny and Ortiz.
Yeah, but those guys just suck! I hate Boston! Screw the Red Sox! Screw ’em! They’re going to finish in third place behind the Blue Jays! Troy Glaus is a beast!
You’re a moron.
10. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell? You of all people should know this – you’ve covered the teams, you’ve worked the beats, you’ve been to the games. And, I know for a fact that you and I have wasted an inordinate amount of time thumbing through the media guides looking for blondes.
We’ve done it. Absolutely. Can I do a top three? In order?
Sure, as long as they’re ranked.
Alright, for number three I’m going to say field hockey. They have a lot of cute freshmen and sophomores.
I think I ran into one of them on Saturday night.
There’s a ton of them. HOT HOT HOT. Field hockey was great because they would practice on the field right after we finished for sprint football. We got to see them a lot. I loved it.
So, you’re all hot and sweaty, and you rip off your helmet in slow motion