“What the hell is this?”
That’s what I thought the first time I tasted Montreal smoked meat. I was 19 years old, sitting in my old Mazda pickup truck as I waited to cross the U.S.-Canada border. I had read about a local institution called Schwartz’s Deli, and their sandwich sounded like a fitting end to a long weekend of partying in the Great White North.
That first bite changed my life.
It’s hard to describe just what makes a Montreal smoked meat sandwich so damn good. It’s better than any pastrami sandwich that you’ve ever had because of how it’s prepared and the cut of beef. It’s beef brisket dry cured with spices, smoked, steamed, and finally sliced thin to order. It’s a labor of love.
So, six visits to Montreal and one revelatory trip to a similar deli in New York City later, and we have the birth of Berg’s.
I decided to start Berg’s because New Jersey didn’t have anywhere to get a Montreal smoked meat sandwich and its natural partner: poutine, a gravy-smothered mix of French fries and farm-fresh cheese curds. I’ve seen knock off versions of poutine around here, but never the real deal. If I was willing to travel internationally to get a taste of this Canadian cuisine, I figured my neighbors in Monmouth County might want a piece of it, too. I decided to throw in some matzo ball soup, latkes, and smoked turkey sandwiches—because why not? This is food that I love and want to share.
After more than 15 years working in kitchens and a culinary school diploma, I learned that a restaurant is about more than the food it serves. High-quality ingredients and food made from scratch will always be the cornerstone of Berg’s. But our customers get more than that. Our food is about scratching the itch for hearty homecooked food and some adventure. It’s about satisfying your cravings for the stuff you know and the stuff you don’t quite know yet.
Berg’s is also about friends, family, and community. Whether you stumble over to pick up your order after a few beers or pull up clear-eyed with punk rock blasting from the Jeep, you’re welcome here. Take a big bag to the brewery and share with friends or squirrel some away for later. Lean on our sandwiches, poutine, and sides to get through the workweek or to embrace the weekend. Stop and bullshit with us or grab it and run.
Berg’s delivers the taste you didn’t even know you wanted—without any of the pretense, right down the street, in the city we love. It’s the only 10-minute flight to Montreal around.
Berg’s Montreal Smoked Meat & Poutine