There is a lot to like about Brooklyn Deli in Longmont. It imports many of its ingredients from New York or thereabouts. It accurately offers many of the classic sandwiches you’d find in a New York deli. It has a welcoming, East Coast sense of hospitality. It sells many of those imported goods by the can. And its casual interior is similar to, if not a little cleaner than, the delis back east.
This is all to say that Brooklyn Deli is good and it comes close. About as close as you can get to a New York style deli halfway across the country in a state where classic East Coast deli and diner fare is few and far between. And for that, Brooklyn Deli deserves credit.
Take the Italian hero for instance. First off, good for calling it a hero. Back east, there are heroes, subs, grinders and hoagies. What you call a sandwich depends really on where you’re from — and more likely, what the deli you frequent calls them. There are some key variables between them but not many.
A hero, then, has always been, to me, fresh white bread, cut from a long Italian loaf. The meat is piled extra high, and there is fresh shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar dressing and that’s about it. The hero is a clean deli sandwich, and if you disagree, then it’s exactly what was meant by the distinction that these names often depend on your local deli — mine growing up was called All American Hero, and it served clean, meat-stacked sandwiches.
This is all to say that Brooklyn Deli came close to what I had in my mind as a hero, and it could certainly be right in line with others’ definitions. It was made on a thin sub roll, packed several layers deep with meats — ham, capicola, salami and then provolone — and topped with dressing and a robust giardiniera of pepperoncini, peppers and olives. Everything was there in that sandwich, even the flavor was pretty on it, but the bread lacked firmness and crunch; the toppings outdid the meat (capicola and salami always star in Italians), and there just wasn’t enough of it — it was too small in length and density.
It was similar with the pastrami on rye. All the flavors were there. The pastrami was hot and spicy, punching the taste buds with its peppery and semi-sweet meaty goodness. The mustard was spicy and evenly proportioned. The rye bread was fresh and expressive. The issue was that there was almost no pastrami on the sandwich. That’s relative, of course, as pastrami on rye is notorious for being packed absurdly high. The flavors were there, the execution was just a step behind.
The service at Brooklyn Deli might be the best part. The men behind the counter had the ball-busting variety of endearment that many might find abrasive but that is the essence of the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. This includes an instance where what is probably a fine couple asked if the busy guy behind the counter could clean a booth for them, and the guy said “There’s plenty of clean tables,” in a classic “What’s wrong with you?” tone of voice. The couple sat down anyway, and he came hustling over, squirt bottle in hand, saying, “No, no, no, don’t clean it yourselves, I got it.” When the same man asked if I wanted a receipt, I said, “Can I?” and he said, “Yeah, that’s why I asked.” I love it. That’s a Brooklyn deli.
So it works as a short-term substitute. The thing with Brooklyn Deli is that it compares itself to Brooklyn delis, not other Colorado delis based on its name. In that regard, it’s a good substitute, but not quite the real thing. Compared to other delis out here, it’s a great place to grab a bite.