When New York Deli opened on Raymond Ave, in the space that used to be Famima!, I didn't have any strong desire to check it out. I have written before that I am skeptical when restaurants borrow the name of a city in their title. Barbecue joints using the name "Memphis" are always a disappointment. Pizza places with "Chicago" in the title inevitably leave me wanting something better. Philly's Best was the only exception to restaurants using "Philly."
So New York Deli just wasn't at the top of my list. To be honest, most of the time when I'm craving a sandwich, I am perfectly fine with going to the deli counter at Ralph's and picking up some peppered turkey breast and Genoa salami and slapping it between two slices of Webber's bread with a few condiments. For ten bucks I can make five sandwiches that always make me happy.
I accompanied a friend to New York Deli a few months ago. We were going out for a couple happy hour beers and she hadn't eaten yet, but I had already had lunch hours earlier. So she grabbed a quick bite and I sat with her but did not eat anything myself. Her sandwich looked unremarkable and her order of fries, while looking good, could have filled a shoebox. I had a bit of a hunch that maybe New York Deli is one of those places that gives you massive portions in the hopes that you won't pay any attention to the fact that their food is absolute crap, like a certain Italian restaurant not too far away.
The other day my friend Zach was in town - if you read Monday's post, you know that he was here to celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday. He snuck away from helping set up the party for an hour so we could grab lunch together. I suggested giving New York Deli a try. He loves sandwiches and readily agreed.
"I think we need to get the triple-decker sandwiches," Zach commented. Correctly.
I guess the grill wasn't working.
We decided we would each get a different triple-decker and share them. Zach ordered the Fatana: hot brisket, hot pastrami, tomatoes, American cheese and Russian dressing.
It was towering more than six inches high when it hit the table. It took a while to determine how to attack the sandwich. I think I bit into the corner of it first. It was good. The sourdough bread was great and I really liked the pastrami, but the brisket was on the dry side. After a few minutes I squirted some mustard onto it, which helped.
The smallish container (not that it was very small, just tiny in comparison to the mammoth sandwiches) was the perfect size vessel for the potato salad - I'm not sure I could have eaten a lot of it. I've always been more of a mustard-potato salad lover; I can eat that by the gallon. This sweet stuff? Only a little at a time.
I added a bit of deli mustard to my last bite of sandwich. It wasn't necessary; the flavors of the sandwich worked very well by themselves and nothing else was needed.
I am not sure why I have avoided New York Deli, but I definitely will remember it as an option from now on. It's not cheap - each of our sandwiches were $15.95 - but the portions are huge: I took home almost half a sandwich, along with all of Zach's fruit and two giant pickles. I tried to eat it all for breakfast the next morning but couldn't manage and it took me an afternoon snack to finish it. So I guess you could say I got 2.5 meals out of my sandwich.
(That being said, Pasadena Sandwich Company is half the price and their sandwiches are almost as big. But then again, that's East Pasadena and comparing restaurants in that part of town to ones in the outdoor mall that Old Town has become is not fair.)
One day I will take Elizabeth here to get her opinion of whether or not this place is worthy of its name. In my (admittedly limited) experience with New York delis, I would say that it is. At any rate, it is certainly a nice option to have in Old Town.