Dock Deli: Twenty-Five Years and Counting
In the last few weeks, customers have walked into Dock Deli in tears for fear that Rye’s beloved Milton Road eatery is closing.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
In the last few weeks, customers have walked into Dock Deli in tears for fear that Rye’s beloved Milton Road eatery is closing. While it is true that owners Neil and Maggie Pinsker will have a new landlord, thanks to a long lease Dock Deli is here to stay.
In their 25th year, the Pinskers are on a third generation of customers. “It feels good and it’s kind of cool that we’ve gotten to see generation after generation. People are moving back to Rye and they’re happy we’re still here after all these years. They bring in their kids, like their parents brought them,” noted Neil. “We hold Milton Point together.”
Dock Deli certainly remains a family-oriented and kid-friendly staple in Rye. It’s the kind of place where families go every Sunday for a stack of pancakes. It’s where husbands defer to Neil for their wives’ coffee orders. It’s where patrons get a kick out of seeing themselves in collages of Christmas cards, which Maggie has compiled since the early 1990s. It has become a familiar, warm gathering spot for adults and children, alike.
“We joke around that our tables are much like Rao’s,” said Neil, whose loyal customers are as possessive of their favorite tables as the regulars at the legendary Italian restaurant in Harlem.
It may be Dock Deli’s silver anniversary, but Neil and Maggie have made a formidable team even longer than that. Together since 1980, they met playing in a bowling league and have been married for 31 years. While he grew up on Fordham Road in the Bronx, she’s a Rye girl through and through and was a three-star athlete at Rye High School.
Having grown up across the street from Dock Deli, Maggie recalled, “It was my mom who mentioned the deli was for sale. Since I had been in the food business, Neil and I bought it and here we are. It has been great having your partner as your partner.”
In addition to the homey atmosphere they provide, the Pinskers attribute their success to their fresh, homemade food. No preserves are used and no food is left sitting at a steam table. On the contrary, each item is cooked to order with full menus for breakfast and lunch, including omelets, burgers, Philly steak, and club sandwiches. They cook their own roast beef, grill their own vegetables, and make their own salads and coleslaw daily.
The pièce de résistance in their repertoire is the signature Dock Dip, a Ranch-style secret recipe that the Pinskers keep close to the vest. Suffice it to say, customers put it on everything, from salads to burgers to wraps.
Their menu also reflects the fact that their customers have become more health-conscious over the years. Dock Deli offers plenty of healthy choices, such as salads, turkey and salmon burgers, avocadoes, and egg whites. Their nutritious selections notwithstanding, the eatery’s fried chicken cutlet is still the most popular item. And the shelves at Dock Deli still hold plenty of candy.
“We have to have candy for the kids,” said Neil. “They come here after school every day.”
Dock Deli may close in the early afternoon, but their catering is ubiquitous throughout Rye, day and night. Their chicken parmesan, baked ziti, six-foot wedges, sausage and peppers, and finger sandwiches are enjoyed at the schools, football games, and local events from Wainwright House to Read Sanctuary.
“Rye’s been good to us and we love to support all that’s going on here,” said Maggie.
“Our customers make us feel special and we try to be there for them,” added Neil. “What happens in Rye stays in Rye.”
Dock Deli is open seven days a week, 7-3:30 on weekdays and 7-3 on weekends.