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August 14, 2008 4:58 PM

I'll have fennel sausage on challah -- with an espresso

Posted by Nancy Leson

One of my challah-lovin' readers emailed, asking: "What happened to Leah's on 65th? Any word? I'm wondering if it will open elsewhere?" Nope, says owner Leah Jaffee, who closed her tiny kosher bakery and deli in February, soon to reopen as Da Pino Italian Cafe & Deli:

But there's no need to sit shiva for Leah's.

Italian sausage-maker and deli owner Pino Rogano has leased only the retail adjunct of Leah's Catering:

Meanwhile, Leah continues doing business in this orthodox-Jewish stronghold where she's been catering "life cycle and social events" (read: weddings, b'nai mitzvahs, shivas) for the past 10 years. "We're busy as ever," said Leah, seen here yesterday in her catering kitchen -- where she'll soon be busy preparing for another important life cycle event: the reunion of Franklin High School's Class of '73, of which she's a proud member.

As for Pino, who shuttered his shop on Friday, he's hoping to be open on the corner of 22nd Avenue and 65th Street N.E. by the end of August. Why Ravenna? "It came at the right time," he told me today. "I lost my lease, they're tearing the building down and I found this spot and liked it. Even if it's a smaller place, it's a lot better than Garlic Gulch, let me tell you," said the Calabrian native, using the term historically linked to the Rainier Valley. These days, "the area wasn't the right one" for an Italian deli, he said. "Lunch was good, but dinnertime? No traffic." His sausages, made at Rainier Valley's Mondo Meats and sold wholesale to some of the city's best restaurants, have kept him afloat these past four years. "I deal with restaurants a lot. That's what's kept me alive."

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