Deli Dining: NY's 10best where you'll never leave hungry



The classic cuisine of the city that never stops eating has been imitated, parodied and occasionally overlooked – even by locals – for fusion fads or lunchtime flavors of the week. But the classic New York deli has unending appeal. Knowing a good tradition when they see one, with the demand for GMO-free and organic products, upstarts are moving in on deli territory with deli/market/ready-to-eat options.

Of course, like everything in this city of endless choice, there are countless variations on the theme. An Italian-American salumeria will be happy to cater your cousin's birthday party, but may not have the space so you can consume that hero. Delis have little in common with sit-down sandwich shops where they cure the pastrami in-house.

Whether you're in the mood for the mountains of meat served on grainy rye from Katz's Deli, or Sarge's knishes so good you'll want to call your mother from Russ & Daughters, not to mention the windfall of wursts at Schaller & Weber, prosciutto-heavy heroes at Astoria' Dave and Tony’s, or the made-just-right-eggplant rollatini at Sorriso's, there is no shortage of deli variety. Step right up to the counter, grab a number, friend, you've come to the right place. And just about all of them, deliver nationwide, so order away.

 



10


 

Astoria has always been a stalwart community of immigrants who stayed and did not stray to the suburbs. Recently, a younger crowd driven out of Manhattan on a quest for affordable rents has staked their claims. Fortunately, they appreciate what really makes Astoria â€" the Mediterranean, Latin and South Asian immigrants -side by side wtih storefronts now housing trendy wine bars and organic dry cleaners. Lucky for all of us, Astoria's beloved D & F's remains. Inexpensive sandwiches are joined by crowd-pleasing Italian-American fare like marinated olives, prosciutto, mortadella and all manner of salumi. At D & Fs, the fresh mozzarella is made in house daily, and specialties like meatball marinara, eggplant parm and homemade pasta keep patrons old and new coming back for more. And when in season, pumpkin raviolis in the freezer.


9


 

Located next to Brooklyn Bridge Park DUMBO, Foragers Market calls itself a craft grocery store with a farm-to-table deli, and grab-and-go element. The 'deli' component includes made-to-order sandwiches with the same farmstead meats seen in their butcher case along with produce from area farms and bread from Bien Cuit Bakery. Additionally, Foragers offers a hot lunch entree section (everything from chicken curry to soup) and a salad bar featuring items like kimchi and quinoa along with traditional selections, varying the offerings by season. Each morning, a breakfast bar of hot cereal is available for purchase. Foragers also has a home in Chelsea on W. 22nd St. & Eighth Ave. or, in DUMBO.


8


 

Grab your Metrocard and bring an appetite to this Italian-American sandwich shop, where the 95-year-old Red Hook original serves up eggplant parm subs, pork heroes smothered in tomato sauce, and tangy cucumber, eggplant and pickled giardiniera salads. The sandwich board is expansive, and the ordering system slightly convoluted, but, hey, that's just part of DeFonte's charm. Hot Heroes like potatoes with eggs are hearty enough to cure anyone's Monday morning blues, the Sinatra Special includes steak pizzaiola that would bring a twinkle to Old Blue Eyes, and the crispy fried eggplant atop the hot roast beef sandwich with house-made mozzarella, or try the Cuban sandwich with a twist on garlicky bread.


7
Lower East Side


 

Set in the Lower East Side, a part of town you won't want to miss if you are a first-time visitor, this has been a Manhattan mainstay since 1888. This kosher-style deli has been delighting generations of the cold, tired and corned beef-ready from its brightly lit corner on the Lower East Side. Once an immigrant neighborhood, the area is now populated by twenty-somethings. Yet Katz's well-stocked meat counter and legendary gruff-but-kind service somehow feels timeless. The freshly carved corned beef and pastrami sandwiches are worth the hype, and large enough to last at least two more footwear trends. Order a combination soup and half sandwich or if you want to go healthy ask for a half sandwich with house salad for $17. Make sure someone at your table orders an all-beef frankfurter, served on a soft roll with tangy mustard, and don't overlook the knockwurst with beans. Best of all, if you want to take a taste of East Houston home with you, Katz's ships nationwide.


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By day you will see the classic booths are stuffed with suits, but by midnight, a scattering of hipsters, clubby types clamor for a repast way past midnight. Ok pastrami you think is either lean of fatty but at Sarge's the smoky blends with the salty and the rich flavors in between. Yes you can still get a half sandwich and a soup here for just $15 but if you are considering New York's largest sandwich, known affectionately at Sarge's as "The Monster," you are a serious consumer. Served on thick sliced rye bread with corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, fresh turkey, salami, sliced tomato, lettuce and cole slaw with Russian dressing, you are facing a $41.95 challenge. As if this might be unthinkable, try to leave room for one of the many homemade cheesecake varieties including peanut butter.


5


 

This is the first place Lidia Bastianich of Eataly and Felidia fame returns to every time she comes home to Astoria. Cooks and diners alike come here for the most authentic and most diverse array of Italian deli meats, cheeses and come Advent, the arrival of panettone from Northern Italy. Every Italian region is represented in this store: sardines from Sicily, pasta from Molise, cured meats from chi lo sa, and more. Much is made right here: mozzarella, fresh ricotta, sausage and sopressata and cotechini, which traditionally is added to New Year's good-luck lentil soup.. Of course you can also get hero sandwiches or panini here. Choose your fresh roll or hero from the shelf. Then watch the magic as Joe, Carlos or Raffaele lovingly layer mozzarella, thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, spicy soppressata and maybe peppers to balance the fat with the not-so-fat for about $9.


4
Murray Hill


 

It may not be on Second Avenue anymore, but this timeless deli brings Lower East Side elan to a small but spirited space on East 33rd Street. The menu spans all the kosher classics. Start with the heart-stoppingly good gribenes, or fried chicken skin with onions, to get appetites going. Then, move on to a beef tongue and pastrami sandwich, covered in coleslaw and Russian dressing, double-decker pastrami on rye, or the hearty, oddly elegant chopped liver. Service can be spotty, and wait times considerable, but it's all part of the 2nd Avenue Deli experience. So sit back, sip your egg cream, and bite into old New York.


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Back in 1937 in a German neighborhood once known as Yorkville, Schaller & Weber opened a butcher or wurstmaker specializing in pork products. Eventually it morphed into a German specialty store that continues to promise and deliver hard-to-find imported items and brands. Artifice has no place here as the younger generation follows the tradition of smoking their own meats and making high-quality meat products with hand-blended spices. What you will find are sausages stacked to the sky, an unbelievable array of weisswurst, knackwurst, bockwurst, and plain old weiners not to mention chocolates, special brands of Spaetzle, jams, cheeses, coffees and sweets, German of course. All the ingredients to have your own biergarten party.


2


 

Small, unobtrusive, no flashing lights because Astorians know Sorriso's, which means "smile" in Italian. Everything item here will inspire just that: a smile not to mention loyalty from Manhattan foodies to locals . Fledgling cooks will be guided through the motherlode of ingredients for any Italian meal. From pastas of all shapes, sizes, sans gluten to sauces, oils, vinegars and homemade sausages and mozzarella. A new face does not go unnoticed at Sorriso's before a sample of homemade mozzarella is passed on to you right over the glass cases jammed with delights: from microwaveable dishes like eggplant rollatini to marinated shrimps, to a gamut of sopressata, dried sausage, something you do need to try. Just think: Frank, Joe, Peter, Sal, Smile.


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The original "appetizing store" debuted in 1914, and today stands as a throwback to a time when the Lower East Side was a neighborhood of new immigrants. The iconic storefront on East Houston Street stocks a broad selection of Jewish-American staples like hand-rolled bagels with cream cheese and lox, buttery pistachio halvah and unctuous, irresistible pickled herring. The renowned caviar selection spans Siberian and American roes, the bagels and bialys are made on-site, and pastries like cinnamon babka, raspberry rugelach and hand-dipped chocolates are the reason gym memberships exist. After 102 years on the LES, Russ & Daughters have opened a site at the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side.


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