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Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom

When Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom were searching for a name for their new Jewish deli, a friend’s dad jokingly suggested they call it Not Zabar’s But Close. But when the name Wise Sons was thrown out there, the duo knew they had a winner. And since they opened their decidedly old-school place in San Francisco’s Mission District—think home-cured pastrami, house-made pickles, bialys, babka, and more modern takes on food bubbie would have made—the community knew it was a winner as well.

Encouraging community is, in fact, what Wise Sons sets out to do, in its intimate 30-seat space of communal tables and walls lined with ancestral photos. (Beckerman and Bloom also have a booth at the Ferry Plaza Market, and a dine-in spot at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum.) Plus, they’ve hosted pop-ups with the likes of Chopped judge Amanda Freitag, of Manhattan’s Empire Diner.

Friends from U.C. Berkeley, Beckerman and Bloom (both Southern California natives) used to throw big kosher dinners at the Berkeley Hillel House—Southern barbecue, Chinese, even Creole food.  “We were more excited about these meals than classes,” Beckerman said. After dipping their toes into other professions neither was enthusiastic about, they reunited and started cooking again.

There’s more than just matzo-ball soup behind the Wise Sons philosophy; it’s about reconnecting with Jewish roots. As part of the Jewish think tank Reboot’s Beyond Bubbie project, Beckerman and Bloom cooked with their elders in a Knish-Off to raise awareness of ancestral foods and intergenerational cooking.

As a writer for the Jewish Journal said, “Wise Sons aspires to old-fashioned food for the future, as if that pastrami smoker/time machine really could take us all backward and forward, to a past where Beckerman’s relatives ate pickles from a barrel, and to a future where their great-great-grandchildren can enjoy the same great pickles, made from the harvest of some local farms.”

  • Recipe

    Homemade Pastrami

    Making pastrami at home takes time—a little over a week, in fact—but very little effort. The long brine and slow smoking infuse the beef with flavor and keep it tender.…

  • Recipe

    Roasted Cabbage Wedge Salad

    Crisp pieces of salty, smoky pastrami make a perfect counterpoint to sweet roasted cabbage. Topped with a tangy blue cheese dressing, this wedge salad makes the standard iceberg-bacon version pale…

  • Recipe

    Pastrami-Kimchi Reuben

    A Reuben is traditionally made with corned beef, which, like pastrami, is cured brisket. But because pastrami gets spiced and smoked, it packs way more flavor. At Wise Sons, they…

  • Moveable Feast

    Cheese Blintzes with Macerated Strawberries

    The light, eggy blintz is as much a part of traditional Jewish cooking as the crêpe is to the French. For this rendition, fresh strawberries steeped in orange juice are…

  • Moveable Feast

    Scribe Winery, Sonoma, CA (110)

    Pete Evans travels to California's wine country where he plans a feast with chefs Christopher Kostow and the duo known as the Wise Sons, Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom.