Hardly Strictly Bagels: Hundreds of Bay Area food trucks now one is Jewish

The Bay Area finally has its first Jewish food truck. The Old World Food Truck, a venture that started last year as a pop-up restaurant, began rolling May 10 under the direction of owner and chef Kenny Hockert, who has been taking the truck out a couple of times per week.

“Things are going good, but it’s been hectic,” an exhausted but energized Hockert told me last week. “This is the first business I’ve ever started, and there are so many things you can’t plan for. We are learning as we go.”

On Thursday, June 14, the truck will begin its first regular gig: lunch every other Thursday at the Mission Dispatch street food pod, at 18th and Bryant streets in San Francisco. Hockert also is anticipating appearances at the new SoMa StrEat Food Park (the city’s first permanent pod, with 10 trucks daily, for lunch and dinner, at Division and 11th streets).

But more than just hitting the streets, Hockert wants to make inroads into the Jewish community.

“Part of my vision and goal is to integrate the business at different Jewish cultural events,” said Hockert, a New York native and trained chef. “I really want to be part of the community.”

The Old World Food Truck sells mainly pierogies, Reubens, knishes and chicken schnitzel sandwiches. Hockert estimates that for a typical lunch, he makes 70-80 sandwiches, along with 30 orders of pierogies.

Other items include carrot and poppy seed slaw, celery soda, and borscht and pickles. All his doughs are made from scratch. Sometimes there is matzah bark (smothered in caramel, chocolate, toasted almonds and sea salt) or house-made potato chips infused with horseradish. Is it any surprise that Hockert advertised recently on Craigslist for more cooks?

“I’m still cooking most of the food myself,” he said. “But I haven’t pulled back. I’m going on with the schedule.”

Hockert said he’d love to partner with some or all of the other new Jewish food entrepreneurs on a breakfast or a brunch — or even a big Jewish food festival.

“There’s enough of us now that we should all grow the market together,” he said.

Old World Food [email protected] on Twitter, Old World Food Truck on Facebook, www.oldworldfoodtruck.com



NEW BAGEL SPOT: Not all of the kosher food news coming from the South Peninsula last week was sad news. Two days before the upscale Kitchen Table ceased operations in Mountain View, a new kosher food spot opened in East Palo Alto.

Old World Food Truck

Well, maybe “new” isn’t the right word, because Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels has been around for 16 years. But now the certified kosher establishment has a second location, at 2220 University Ave., on the east side of Highway 101 near Ikea. The grand opening was June 1.

“It’s a good location for us because of the rent [cheaper than Palo Alto] and it’s on the route to and from the Dumbarton Bridge,” said Maria Arzate, Izzy’s manager for 12 years. “Plus, we were looking for a place where we could do more production.”

The new spot has about 33 percent more space than the Izzy’s at 477 S. California Ave. in Palo Alto.

The parve menu will be the same as the original, with one exception. In deference to the neighborhood, “We’re going to try a more Mexican type of hummus,” Arzate said. “Something more spicy, for the area.”

Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels No. 2 2220-B University Ave., East Palo Alto 6 a.m.-3 p.m.; closed on Shabbat (650) 322-5700  •  www.izzysbrooklynbagels.com

PASTRAMI IN NAPA: A Jewish deli food truck called Pastranomy made its debut May 17 in downtown Napa. Unlike most bottom-up food truck endeavors, this is the pet project of Michael Dellar, co-founder, president and CEO of the $50 million, 14-restaurant Lark Creek restaurant group, and some of his friends — “the pastrami boys,” he calls them.

“This has nothing to do with my restaurants,” Dellar told me. “This is a special little deal, not to make money, but because I love deli.” However, the debut revealed that the operation needs some fine-tuning, and appearance No. 2 still hasn’t occurred. It should happen by the end of June. Keep tabs at www.pastranomy.com.

“SHABBIS” DINNERS: Wise Sons Deli, which usually closes at 3 p.m., is trying out its first dinner service, with an initial test run Friday, June 8. Co-owners Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom are billing it as a “shabbis dinner” (their spelling), but there will be no rituals or blessings; people will order off a special menu planned in part by a guest chef. The first one is Thomas Martinez, formerly of Mission Beach Café, and some of the offerings will be kreplach stuffed with purple potato and shlishkes (potato dumplings, a Hungarian Jewish favorite) dusted with challah panko and morel mushrooms. Reservations needed. Visit www.wisesonsdeli.com for more info.

A HAPPY GHETTO: The JCC of the East Bay is launching a summer food series at 7:30 p.m. June 28 with a panel discussion about Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Adam Cohen, the manager of the Off the Grid food truck gatherings, will be one of the panelists, along with reps from the JCC’s North Berkeley neighbors (tentatively): Saul’s Deli, the Cheese Board Collective, the Juice Bar Collective and the Local Butcher Shop. The Old World Food Truck might cater, but if not, there still will be food to nosh on, an organizer said. Visit www.jcceastbay.org for updates and for details on the series’ other two events.


Levy’s Bagels & Co. is coming to Alameda, but not until August at the earliest. The longtime San Ramon spot has been owned for 11 years by Sam Kuav (whom many assume is Jewish, but is actually Cambodian). Kuav is working through the permit process for location No. 2, in a good foot-traffic spot on Webster Street in Alameda next to a Starbucks … Beauty’s Bagel Shop on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland has put up some lighting and the counter is done, but co-owner Blake Joffe said “mid-July” when asked about an opening date … As the result of a customer survey, Peet’s Coffee & Tea is now selling bagels at most Northern California locations. They are baked fresh daily by local vendors, but be forewarned: Most Peet’s don’t have a toaster, only one or two types are available, your choice of spreads is regular cream cheese or nothing — and the bagel I tried was not boiled (and not very good) … Wise Sons Deli was featured on KRON-TV last month on “Dine & Dish.” See the 2-minute piece at www.kron.com/Reporters/wisesons.aspx. Surprisingly, the KQED-TV show “Check Please, Bay Area” hasn’t contacted the boys yet, but the spotlight keeps finding them, such as the deli winning SF Weekly’s readers’ poll for best new restaurant of 2012 … After a fun and engaging debut last month, Kehilla Community Synagogue’s Pop-Up Shabbat is back. All are invited to the short outdoor service at 6 p.m. Friday, June 8 near the Bites Off Broadway food truck gathering, 365 45th St., Oakland. Dinner is on your own — at the trucks, of course … The inaugural Israel China Cultural Festival that’s running through June in San Francisco is going to conclude July 2 with a unique event: a Chinese-style banquet inspired by foods one would find in Israel, such as hummus, falafel, shakshouka and couscous. Visit www.israelchinasf.com … With all that’s going on with food locally, Israel in the Gardens should be a veritable Israeli and Jewish food orgy. So why are there only two stands where you can get lunch? Vendors are dissuaded by a regulation that prohibits cooking on the Yerba Buena Gardens grounds; they have to prepare cooked food early in the day, or somewhere near the festival, and cart it in. “Things sit in a tent for hours and you can’t provide a quality product,” one former vendor told me. “We tried a steamer once and it was a disaster.”


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Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.