Catcher and the deli rye
VIN Scully’s voice reverberated through Dodger Stadium at a recent rainy-night game against the visiting Giants, while hungry fans stocked up on hot dogs and beer, nachos and cotton candy -- and matzo ball soup, courtesy of Canter’s Deli’s newly opened concession stand.
In time to mark the team’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, the Dodgers unveiled a serious upgrade to the field level when the season opened last week. In addition to Canter’s Deli, which is on the third-base side, new concessions include Mrs. Beasley’s, Camacho’s Cantina and Ruby’s Diner.
It’s only the second expansion in Canter’s history. The family-run business opened in 1924 in New Jersey and moved to Los Angeles in 1931. In 2003, Canter’s opened an outpost in Las Vegas, at the Treasure Island Hotel.
A Canter’s at Chavez Ravine is a perfect fit. The deli, which moved to Fairfax Avenue in 1953, is as much of an L.A. institution as Tommy Lasorda.
“Hey, is that albondigas?” one guy in full Dodger gear shouted in amazement, staring at his neighbor’s squat paper cup of chicken broth, in which one enormous matzo ball floated, almost exactly the size of an errant fly ball.
David Breton of Seattle, a Mariners fan in town with his two young sons, was impressed -- and it’s not easy to impress a Safeco Field patron. (That stadium serves sushi.) “The best Jewish food I’ve ever had at a ballpark,” said Breton, munching on a pastrami sandwich. “But the soup needs a little salt.”
The soup did need salt. And the sandwiches -- pastrami, corned beef, a hybrid called a “Canter’s Fairfax” (a mixture of the two meats on the same caraway-studded rye), and a turkey French dip -- were in need of sauerkraut and mustard, neither of which the concession stand sells. (You can get mustard at the condiment stand.)
Just give Gary Canter a little time. Canter, a lifelong Dodger fan, says it all began when he befriended former Dodger Shawn Green and started bringing him corned-beef sandwiches before games. “There was a time, when every time I fed him, they won.”
“I’ve been trying to do this for five years,” Canter says of opening a stand at the stadium. “Every time, I just brought more food.” Canter, who says he now brings boxes of rugelach to the stadium crew, would like to expand both the offerings -- “I wanted to do Reubens” -- and the access.
Right now you have to pay for the privilege: The stands are open only to fans with field level tickets, and the food comes at elevated stadium prices. But if you think shelling out $11 for a corned-beef sandwich with no fixings is a little steep, just remember that a large beer goes for $12.
With one of Canter’s impressive kosher pickles, as well as little cups of cole slaw and potato salad -- the slaw and salad are both made at the deli, as are the matzo balls for the soup and the meats, which are then cooked and sliced at the ballpark -- it’s a pretty sweet alternative to the usual fare.
Sandy Koufax, who threw out the first pitch of the season (along with Carl Erskine and Don Newcombe), and whose portrait graces the parking lot mural at Canter’s, would have approved.
-- Amy Scattergood
Put Vinoteque on the growing list of Culver City wine bars -- this one a little off the beaten path, i.e., not on Washington Boulevard. BottleRock-er Adam Fleishman is a co-owner. Vinoteque is serving Mediterranean-ish small plates. 4437 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, (310) 482-3490.
Fries with that dog? Hot dog spot Marty D’s, recently opened in Beverly Hills, is offering a spring special: a free side of Coney Island fries with every deluxe all-beef dog or chicken sausage. 230 S. Beverly Drive, (310) 273-7771.
And what is a mojo pie? Apparently it’s an Australian meat pie (steak; steak and cheese; or steak, bacon and cheese; etc.) with a new home in Redondo Beach, Mojo Pies Coffeehouse. 420 N. Pacific Coast Highway, (310) 937-9000, www.mojopies.com.