Category Archives: Deli

PJ Bernstein

I stopped here for lunch and was really pleased with the meal. Started with a fried knish and wasn’t disappointed. Hot and crisp, super velvety interior.

The Butcher’s Special sandwich, with tongue, corned beef and pastrami, was a big win. Half a pound of meat!

The Rueben sandwich is served open face style, and was equally delightful.

Topped that off with some fries and pirogies. The fries were perfect. As for the dumplings, I preferred the meat ones over the potato.

Then washed it all down with some chicken soup. DELICIOUS!

This place is great. I definitely recommend.

PJ BERNSTEIN
1215 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10021

Babylon Village Meat Market

If you’ve been following along with my meat adventures on Instagram, you might have seen me tag or mention Babylon Village Meat Market in some of my posts since the summer. This market carries some really high quality beef, including rare beef from Japan like snow beef, olive fed wagyu, etc. Marbled to holy hell.

 

In addition to the rare stuff, they also have plenty of prime, dry-aged steaks, and everything else you might expect to find at a village meat shop, from salami to sandwiches, from porchetta to potato salad to produce to prepared pasta. They’re even launching their own brand of jerky, which is insanely tender and delicious.

Below is a nice unboxing video I made, from when the owner sent me a care package wishing me good luck in the new apartment. I was blown away by his generosity.

I can’t wait to dig into more of this stuff!

BABYLON VILLAGE MEAT MARKET
85 Deer Park Ave
Babylon, NY 11702

St James Cheese Company

This nice sandwich and cheese shop is a fun place to stop in for a quick lunch if you’re in the area. The bloodies are good, and the sandwiches and cheese are nice.

I could’ve used a little more roast beef on this sandwich, and thinner sliced, but the smoked blue cheese sorta made up for it. That was unique. But I think I’m starting to notice a NOLA trend with small amounts of sandwich meat down here. Not a good look!

ST. JAMES CHEESE COMPANY
641 Tchoupitoulas St,
New Orleans, LA 70130

Vintner Wine Market

My wife and I strolled by this cool spot on Sunday and popped in for a beer and a sandwich. Vintner Wine Market sports hundreds of cool and unique beer selections in their fridges, as well as wines (by the glass and bottle). But what really got my attention was the roast beef sandwich.

This baby comes with horseradish cheddar, mayo and red onion. Simple and delicious. And the baguette was nice and fresh.

Good sized sandwich. We will be back here for sure.

VINTNER WINE MARKET
677 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Lioni

Lioni is a famous place in Bensonhurst for sandwiches, mozzarella, and generally any Italian food specialties.

My wife and I stopped in here on the recommendation of a friend who grew up across the street. We ordered two sandwiches:

The Sophia Loren (#12) was made with prosciutto, fresh Lioni mozzarella, stuffed sweet peppers, lettuce, olive oil, salt and pepper.

This thing was awesome. At $16 and over a foot long it can feed two people with ease. The bread was superb, and the meat quality was awesome – no stringy bits, which is sometimes common with average, run of the mill prosciutto. They only use the good stuff here.

The other sandwich was one I concocted myself – generally a no-no in here as they like you to order by number (they have about 300 different sandwiches on the menu). It was bresaola, banana peppers and provolone.

The bresaola was incredible. This one cost $19 and that’s because the bresaola was so top notch. I’ve never had better. The sandwich, however, needed some kind of sauce or hydrating ingredient. I added a spicy honey at home and that seemed to do the trick nicely.

I highly recommend this deli. Great sandwiches!

LIONI
7803 15th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11228

Central Grocery

This legendary Italian deli in New Orleans is world famous for creating the muffuletta sandwich.

Muffuletta is technically a massive sesame seeded bread, but the name has been coopted here to describe this particular sandwich. When I first saw them back in 2009, I thought they were giant burgers.

So what exactly is in the sandwich? It’s essentially an Italian hero (high quality Italian meats and cheeses) on that circular shaped muffuletta bread, but with one special ringer: the magical olive and giardiniera salad (pickled cauliflower, hot peppers and carrots).

There are lots of joints serving this sandwich all over New Orleans, and even now in NYC.

But the one and only, the original, is Central Grocery. It’s either $10.95 (half) or $20.95 (whole). Below is a half on top, and a whole in my hand.

If you can’t find a place serving muffuletta near you, and if you can’t hop on a jet to NOLA, I highly suggest making one at home. Olive salads and giardiniera salads are usually available in jars at gourmet grocery stores. If you can’t find the bread, just slap those salads on top of a regular Italian hero and you’ll pretty much have it sorted out.

CENTRAL GROCERY
923 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Pat LaFrieda Meat Counter

I’ve been fixing to get to this spot in The Pennsy for a while, and I finally had the opportunity last weekend. I organized a bunch of Instagram food savages to come in and shoot pics, sample the menu and promote the LaFrieda brand, which I have come to love so much.

First up, the roast beef sandwich:

This baby is served cold cut style, with bleu cheese, horseradish aioli, pickled red onions and watercress on a toasted semolina roll.

It’s very difficult to choose a favorite among so many selections here. It really depends on what mood you’re in.

Next was the black Angus steak sandwich.

That’s sliced filet mignon with melted Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, baby spinach and au jus on a toasted ciabatta roll. Awesome.

Grandpa’s meatball sandwich is pretty tight.

Tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on a pressed ciabatta roll. Simple and delicious.

This fucker was intensely flavorful.

Slow roasted pork with broccoli rabe and melted provolone on a ciabatta roll. So juicy!

“World’s Greatest Hot Dog” is a bold claim for a menu item to make, but LaFrieda really delivers with this.

This baby is actually two hot dogs with honey mustard, caramelized onions and hot peppers.

As you can see, the dogs are split and grilled, which is a big win for me. I love that preparation.

And finally, the short rib platter.

This is slow roasted and maple glazed, served with greens and a celery root slaw.

For $15 this has to be one of the best buys in NYC for a steak.

This stuff is fork tender too. I was barely able to pick this up without it falling apart – that’s how soft it is!

Do yourself a favor and get this right away. 9/10.

My wife had the genius idea to pop all the items from the soft rib platter onto one of the LaFrieda homemade potato chips.

Pretty incredible! And wash it all down with fresh lemonade or iced tea from the taps.

PAT LAFRIEDA MEAT COUNTER
The Pennsy
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121

White Gold Butchers

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

This joint came on my radar when I learned that it was serving a “Chopped Cheese” sandwich. Made popular by Bronx bodega operators, the “Chopped Cheese” sandwich is a cross between a burger, a cheesesteak, and a NY-style breakfast sandwich (minus the egg and bacon – in fact, it is mainly just likened to a NY bacon, egg and cheese sandwich because of the poppy seed sandwich roll).

The sandwich has been trending hard among food folk in the last few months, and it’s now making its way to the upper crust. Elite restaurateurs must be rejoicing, silently thanking the griddle kings who collectively invented this sandwich, for which they can now charge $11 to residents of the Upper West Side.

Mine was pretty good. There was a great crisp on the meat, which seemed to consist of a mix of chopped meat and thinly sliced steak. There was a ton of cheese, and some really nice pickles and peppers folded in. It was a bit salty, however, and after an hour it will certainly make you want to buy stock in Tums.

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We also tried the roast beef sandwich for $8.

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The quality of the beef here was incredible; there just wasn’t enough of it. The sandwich needs double the meat, lettuce and horseradish cream sauce. The bread just kills the ratios. Otherwise this sandwich was excellent, especially with the pop you get from the pickled red onions.

The cool thing about this joint is that it also serves as a butcher shop, where you can buy a variety of nice cuts like culotte and bavette.

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WHITE GOLD BUTCHERS
375 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Atlantis Resort – Paradise Island Bahamas

My wife signed up for some crazy credit card that rewarded her with a free five day stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas. Then she used some of her frequent flyer points to secure us our flights. It was just a matter of paying for food at that point.

I’m sure you have no interest whatsoever in seeing my amazing vacation photos, so I’ll share with you, instead, some pics of the food we ate at the resort.

This resort is known for having very expensive food. We tried to avoid that a bit by hitting some of the cheaper joints for lunch, and supplementing hunger pangs with the assortment of snacks that we packed into our suitcases. This place is indeed expensive, with some joints even costing more than what we are accustomed to, even as NYC food lunatics.

Murray’s Deli

This is a classic NYC style Jewish deli. We had a massive loaded baked potato and a pastrami/corned beef open faced sandwich. We just couldn’t get enough in New York, so we had to eat some while in the Bahamas.

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Oh and the pickles…

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This place was pretty good.

Burger Shack

Classic American style diner with burgers, dogs, fries and other comfort foods.

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We actually ate here twice because the place we intended to visit prior to our second trip (Bimini Road – Bahamian food) was closed.

First Meal:

The burgers were pretty good. I can tell they use more fat in their patties than we do here in the states. That made for a more robust flavor but with a slightly less desirable texture. Either way a satisfying burger.

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The banana nutella shake was on point, by the way.

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And I’m sure you saw those fries creeping into the frame in the shots above. We actually ordered the combo of onion rings and fries.

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Fries were solid. Onions rings, not so much.

Second Meal:

Goombay Punch, essentially fruit soda (pineapple, mainly), is big down here. And sweet. We tried two varieties during the course of our vacation, and this one was superior (the other was called a “fruit champagne” and it sucked balls).

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Hot dogs are split and grilled, which I consider to be the best method for grilling dogs. We covered ours with mustard, ketchup, mayo and Tabasco sauce.

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Say hello to the Vitamin B: mac and cheese with blue cheese, chopped up hot dog, BBQ pork, and bacon. Insanity.

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Nobu

We had some free sake and sushi sampler platter to use at Nobu, so we figured we would eat a meat there.

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The sampler platter kinda sucked. I can’t believe they normally charge $40 for that. But we did redeem the meal a bit with this conch sashimi:

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And this crispy pork belly dish:

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This small bowl of spicy seafood soup cost $19, which was a total rip off, but it was in fact tasty.

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Unfortunately I was still hungry, so I ordered a noodle dish in hopes that the starch aspect would fill me up. Green tea soba noodles:

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These were actually pretty good. And of course Katherine lifted them for my Instagram feed.

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77 West

This was probably the best meal of the trip. We went for lunch, so kept it relatively light, but everything was excellent.

Good cocktails for the ambiance – not too sweet, just right.

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Probably one of the best tuna tartare dishes we’ve ever had; served in a spicy coconut curry style broth that really popped.

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And why not have another burger? This was much better than the ones at Burger Shack, and it came with fries or a salad for the same price, pretty much.

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I kept it light with a salad instead of fries, and that was a good move. The salad was actually really great and fresh.

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Seafire Grill

Of course we had to try a steakhouse. We pretty much shared a meal for one, since we didn’t want to break the bank.

We tried two cocktails (since we had credit for two free drinks): one was too strong and lacked finesse (the 1888 Rum Old Fashioned), but the other was perfect – a bourbon lemonade.

We started with this horrible crab cake. I’ve had better out of the freezer section of Shop Rite.

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After dining at over 100 steakhouses, some of which are not NYC-based, I’ve learned my lesson: If there is no prime or aged beef on the menu, I should probably stick with a filet. You’re rolling the dice on quality with any other cuts – especially when you’re outside of the USA. Additionally, since a filet had very little fat content to begin with, you don’t have to concern yourself with marbling quality or things like prime and choice. Furthermore, I also took a peek at the butcher shop area of this restaurant (you can buy steaks to grill on your yacht at the marina), and I was not impressed with the strip and rib eye offerings. Filet was the way to go.

It was decent. I’d say 7/10. It was super tender. It lacked some juiciness and outer crust, but it was cooked perfectly medium rare from end to end. If I weren’t such a steak snob, being spoiled by the selections in NYC, this would have been an outstanding cut.

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But at $58 for 10oz, however, this was incredibly overpriced. In NYC it’d be maybe $50, and that’s already pricey since its fucking NYC.

On the side we had some asparagus with Bernaise sauce. These were perfectly cooked, and they even shaved down the woody bottom part with a peeler.

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As always, I have to talk about the table bread in some way. Here, it was lame. A little mushy, kinda like tan Wonder Bread. Not warm.

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The ambiance and the bar were nice though, and it reminded me of something like Capital Grille in midtown. Rich and dark wood tones. If this joint were in NYC I’d probably score it in the high 60s or low 70s. Let’s just go with a 70, for the sake of ease, and because we really only tried three items.

Olives

Olives is a Todd English joint and it is directly connected to the casino at Atlantis, so the place has some standards to live up to. We weren’t planning on dining here, but when the entirety of Paradise Island lost power, we were unable to dine at the only Bahamian restaurant at the resort, Bimini Road, yet again. First time it was closed (peeve about the resort – random closures of restaurants on random days for random reasons), and the second time, which was our last night there, it was shut down because of the power outage.

Anyway, we ended up having a really nice meal at Olives. We had credit for two free cocktails (which we actually used after eating at Nobu earlier in the week).

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That same day we tried the tiramisu flan, which was really delicious and unique, since Nobu was insanely overpriced and the dessert menu looked dumb there.

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We split the rigatoni bolognese, which was really nicely cooked with sausage and ground meat.

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Since we were intending to eat Bahamian food but got denied, we tried the conch ceviche, thinking it would be stellar, made from a local catch. It was just okay. The conch sashimi at Nobu was better.

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On the side we had some of the free focaccia bread (which was nice) and this bland, flavorless broccolini.

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Jonny Panini

I was never really a big fan of the panini as a possible sandwich substitute, until now. As you can imagine, I’m kind of an old fashioned dude. I like my meat and cheese slapped between the bread of a potato bun or hero roll, rather than squished down and toasted. After all, I like to preserve the sanctity of the inside of my mouth, sans cuts and scrapes, and avoid getting ripped to shreds in there from hard, crispy bread. French bread, for example. I love it to death, but as a sandwich bread it is borderline awful (maybe with the exception of a Cuban or Banh Mi). Paninis always just fell into that realm for me. “It’s toasted and crispy, so it will probably rip my mouth apart.” That was the inner monologue.

Enter Jonny Panini to change my mind. This joint makes amazing panini bread that has a supple softness inside to complement the outer crisped and toasted exterior. It’s almost like a thin version of focaccia bread, or even like a pizza crust. My panini mouth cut fears are now significantly abated.

Add to that a plethora of fine, quality Italian ingredients – like aged cheeses, fresh tomatoes, bright greens and top notch prosciutto – and you have the makings of some of the best panini sandwiches this city has to offer.

Jonny himself has decades of experience in the restaurant business. He meets his customers with a warm, vivacious and friendly personality. He exudes passion for his food, and it permeates the establishment. You feel like you’ve known Jonny all your life when you speak to him, and he knows you as well. He truly does; at least as far as your taste buds are concerned.

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His menu of 18 panini sandwiches are static items that can not be swapped around or substituted. Oh, did you want the balsamic reduction on your #3 but it’s only offered on #1? Too bad. It’s on #1 and not #3 for a reason, and when you try #3 you’ll know it’s not meant to be there. That’s the kind of knowledge I’m talking about. And confidence. Jonny knows what works. Trust him. I did.

I came in with a gang of foodies for a special press tasting, so we tried a few things:

#1: Prosciutto e Mozzarella Panini ($13)
Prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, shaved parmigiano and tomato with a balsamic reduction. This was my favorite of the three paninis we tried. It just really popped for me.

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#2: Prosciutto e Provolone Panini ($11)
Prosciutto, sharp provolone cheese, tomato and lettuce with house made basil pesto. Jonny makes the pesto authentic to how his kin made it back in Italy. Family secret!

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#9: Turkey e Avocado Panini ($11)
This is the only panini that isn’t pressed, toasted and heated. Why? Because Jonny doesn’t want to ruin the avocado. Smart, and like I said above: Trust in Jonny’s expertise. I do hate warm avocado, as a matter of fact. Anyway, the sandwich contains turkey, lettuce, tomato and avocado with a jalapeno aioli.

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The Prosciurger
The first of it’s kind, the Prosciurger is Jonny’s trademarked burger patty, which is made entirely from ground prosciutto, mortadella and ham. It’s topped with juicy tomato, crisp lettuce, fresh melted mozzarella and an aioli that is to die for – all sandwiched in a soft, yet sturdy, pretzel bun.

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I was a little worried that the texture of the patty would be rubbery and snappy, almost like a sausage or ham steak, but it wasn’t. It really had a decent crumble and savory bite to it. And it wasn’t overly salty, as one might expect with a patty made entirely from prosciutto and cured meats. It was just right.

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Absolute heaven. I highly recommend this unique and inventive burger. Go get it now!

JONNY PANINI’S
493A 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10018