This Tel Aviv Deli Justifies the Existence of Sandwiches. But Will It Last?

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Sandwiches on display at Nordinyo, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2019.
Sandwiches on display at Nordinyo, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod
Eran Laor
Eran Laor
Eran Laor
Eran Laor

During a stormy office discussion, someone noted that “Sandwiches are problematic. They have a very specific window of time during the day when they’re just what you want. But an hour later they already miss the target...

“Take the tastiest sandwich in the world – if you’re forced to eat it as your lunch, that’s a downer, that won’t feel right. In the end, there’s no justification for them.”

I’m not sure that I stand 100 percent behind that extreme view, but the principle is understandable.

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I recalled that conversation three times in recent months. The first two times were when I heard that two relatively new Tel Aviv sandwich joints – that were praised quite highly in this column – Barvazi and Yom Tov, had closed down less than two years after they had opened.

Customers at Nordinyo, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod

While the two didn’t have much in common, it’s hard not to wonder: Could it be that the new generation of sandwiches, as carefully made and successful as they may be, simply can’t justify a business devoted exclusively to this one food item? That if they don’t include a good location, a popular café or a more extensive menu, they just won’t last? That after the initial wave of enthusiasm and the first samplings, people will prefer simple and classical sandwiches – or will simply buy excellent and available raw ingredients and construct the sandwich of their dreams at home?

The third time I recalled that conversation was on the way to Nordinyo, the new deli-sandwich shop that opened a few weeks ago adjacent to its mother restaurant, Café Nordoy, on the corner of Nahalat Binyamin and Gruzenberg.

Every few days the talk in Tel Aviv centers on a single place – until the next one replaces it – and this was true of Nordinyo, which was the talk of the town. (I happen to like the name with its Brazilian soccer connotation, although the place itself is far from conjuring up any such atmosphere.)

Instagram was exploding with tempting photos, the food columns were full of items about the place, and the first to be afflicted by FOMO (fear of missing out) were already heading over there. I couldn’t help but wonder: Is there any justification for yet another sandwich deli? And if so, will it last?

Sandwiches on display at Nordinyo, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod

We arrived at an hour that was, in principle, suitable for eating sandwiches. In practice, we discovered that Nordinyo has very strict rules: The offerings are not renewed throughout the day; whatever is finished – will be available again only the next day.

And so, although we didn’t arrive late, there were already several stickers on the shop window that declared “See you tomorrow,” in place of the earlier views of various sandwiches, cakes and baked goods that fired the imagination and whet the palate. Anyone who comes here is likely to experience a certain sense of missing out.

So we made do with what we found, and that was actually quite a bit. From the section of whole sandwiches we chose a pretzel with beets and Brie (42 shekels or $12) and a nut bread sandwich with artichoke and broccoli (38 shekels); and from the baguette sandwiches which are sold in 11-cm. slices (19 shekels each), we took a chicken Caesar and a hot ham-Emmental.

Nordinyo. Probably the most Instagrammed place in town right now.Credit: Moti Milrod

And that’s another problem with the carefully prepared new generation sandwiches: They are not at all cheap. In fact, the price approaches or equals that of an entire lunch in many places.

It’s true that there’s no argument about quality; there’s no room to even begin comparisons with the generic sandwiches served in café chains, but thoughts about cost-benefit are inevitable in this genre.

In any case, the entire collection filling our tray was good, even very good. Apparently we will never tire of the pretzel trend – a brown, soft and perfect carbohydrate that is suitable for almost any filling.

Coffee at Nordinyo, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod

The Brie and beets, not a new combination, worked very well with a slight reinforcement of balsamic vinegar, and created a surprisingly light sandwich.

The broccoli-artichoke sandwich was excellent, and was easily voted the best of all: The broccoli florets were chopped and fresh, the artichoke slices were small and refreshing, and the buffalo mozzarella cheese lent a juiciness to the whole deal.

The baguette sandwiches were classical in a good way. Ham and cheese reinforced with butter and lightly roasted in the oven isn’t something you can really go wrong with, and the slices of meat were also delicate and wonderful.

The Caesar sandwich was a very nice version of the familiar salad. But it’s only fair to warn potential diners that 11 centimeters is unlikely to satisfy anyone, while 22 centimeters is already relatively expensive for what you get.

Of course we didn’t restrain ourselves when it came to Nordinyo’s sweet offerings. Most were no longer available – it turns out that most disappear about an hour after the place opens in the morning. But we got to sample the two outstanding stars: the crack pie squares and the rainbow marzipan (both for 9 shekels each).

Here they have a winner that makes you ask: “How come they didn’t think of that before?” No human being, nor even a group, needs an entire slice of crack pie; don’t deny it – it’s simply too much. A small square, from which you even get change from 10 shekels, is a lovely solution.

Crack pie squares at Nordinyo, Tel Aviv, August 15, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod

And as sworn admirers of marzipan, we liked the colorful layered square even more. It easily warrants attention far beyond the borders of Instagram in which it stars.

The people behind Nordinyo are the same ones who are responsible for the super-popular Café Habima kiosk and it shows. The potential and execution of the offerings at Nordinyo are very convincing.

So, as for the first question – whether this eatery is justified – we can answer a resounding yes. As for the second question – whether this place will last – we’ll have to wait and see.

Nordinyo. 27 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv. Open Monday-Friday 8 A.M.-7 P.M.

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