New York Deli back in action

Mike Klarin

New York Deli is back in business. Following a surprise renovation that began in July at the peak of tourist season, the shabby little building at the corner of Washington and 7th Street is suddenly not so shabby anymore, and people are again filling seats to enjoy a taste of New York City delicatessen

The restaurant officially re-opened on Sept. 16 to a slew of happy comments from customers on the restaurant’s official Facebook page. In addition, they carry an impressive Facebook average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from 58 customers, so I had high expectations when I walked in with a fellow editor for lunch the other day.

Greeting us in the entryway was the freshly updated interior, which appears to have been a total gut-rehab operation. With the kitchen in full view of the front counter, customers are able to place an order and move over to the dining room, or take it to go.

A drive-thru window is also available, though I would recommend calling in your order ahead of time as items are prepared to-order and can take a while.

The menu features a variety of hot and cold sandwiches from their classic roast beef with horseradish mayo to the quintessential hot pastrami on rye with mustard, piled high with salty and savory brisket, which owner Scott Sult imports directly from the Big Apple. Also offered are a selection of eight-ounce Angus beef burgers, salads and daily changing homemade soups like tomato basil cream and traditional matzo ball.

For our visit, we decided to start with their special, a Cuban sandwich. Known in Spanish as a “medianoche,” or midnight sandwich, it’s extremely popular on the forbidden isle that bears its name across the Gulf of Mexico. The sandwich features smoked ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, thin sliced dill pickles and mustard on a crisped baguette.

Having tasted the sandwich in its native climes, New York Deli’s version was every bite as good, with a generous helping of meat forming the perfect combination of smoky and salty. The real winner in this sandwich, however, was the bread—my God, the bread. Our server mentioned it was fresh-baked and delivered specially by the Marquette Baking Company on W. Baraga Avenue, known for their artisanal quality. The crusty bâtard was deliciously soft and yeasty inside, and soaked up the juice from the meat just so.

For a nice contrast, we also ordered a vegetarian option, the deli’s caprese sandwich. Nestled between two fresh-baked slices of light rye bread, it featured roasted tomatoes, pesto and fresh mozzarella cheese toasted to bubbly, warm perfection. It was a hearty and filling sandwich without the extra sodium content added by cold cuts and should be enjoyed by the most discriminate vegetarians and carnivores alike.

For sides, each of our sandwiches came with a cup of coleslaw and a pickle spear. The cole slaw left me really wanting for more flavor, however, and I didn’t finish mine. My lunch partner, who has an unhealthy obsession with cole slaw, happily finished the extra two servings with some additional salt and pepper.

Overall, New York Deli earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The service was slightly awkward and confused at times, and can be a bit slow during busy times for a sandwich, but the food was definitely worth the wait. Prices are reasonable for the huge sandwich you get, starting at $5.88 for the caprese sandwich and just over $9 for the Cuban special.

Lunch for two with soft drinks will probably average close to $20, a nice change of pace for students on a budget.

If you find yourself hungry on Washington and have an itch that only a heart-stopping amount of deli meat can itch, stop in and see what all the fuss is about.