Of all the perceived gaps in Dallas' huge, yet largely homogenous selection of restaurants, none has received such passionate attention as the absence of a true New York-style deli. Acceptable and even exceptional versions have come and gone, and one passable local deli-style restaurant is packed all weekend long. Yet the public still craves more.
Where, they ask, are the mile-high sandwiches, the real-deal bagels and chicken soup like Svetlana used to make?
Two newcomers are poised to fill the narrow Manhattan/Bronx/Brooklyn comfort food void, coincidentally (or not) located within spittin' distance of each other in North Dallas. Zinsky's Deli, from the folks who brought us Bengal Coast and Blue Mesa Grill, was supposed to have opened last week. It was our first choice in the new deli face-off, but a sign on the door indicated that the opening had been delayed. Undeterred (and craving something--anything--on rye), we motored two miles up Preston to Roasters New York Deli.
This lone Texas outpost of a Florida-based chain opened in March to mixed reviews. Perhaps it just needed the usual "working out the kinks" period, however, because our visit was largely satisfying. We even invited a Jewish cab driver from Chicago along for the ride, and he left full and happy.
The restaurant is larger than it looks from the outside, with a generous dining area as well as a deli counter and beverage station near the front door. Service came in the form of extremely young, friendly kids probably on summer vacation. We settled on the Jack's Special sandwich ($11.95) and our pal from the Windy City got a three-ingredient omelet with salami, onions and cheddar cheese ($10.50). The sandwich was a behemoth--easily enough to feed two. It held a mound of moist roast turkey the size of a prize fighter's fist as well as two slices of thick-cut Swiss and a topping of crisp cole slaw.
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Next time we might order an extra shot of Russian dressing on the side, but other than that, this sandwich was fine. Our guest's choice, however, stole the show. Hogging most of the dinner plate, the giant omelet threatened to overtake the remaining real estate from a pile of ho-hum home fries. Packed with fillings, each cut of the fork sent waves of rich, melted cheese oozing over into potatoland.
Prices here might seem a bit high to the naked eye, but taking serving sizes into account, they're right in line with what you get. In fact, the only issue that gave us pause on our visit to Roasters was the presence of a sandwich dubbed "the W" on the menu.
While the combination of brisket, crispy onions and horseradish looks good on paper, we're pretty sure it would cause a mighty rough case of indigestion.
We'll be back to Roasters, but not before we try Zinsky's...unless they list something called the Cheney.