Carnegie Deli

Review by: Jane & Michael Stern

** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED **

The perfume of cured deli meats and sour pickles is a dizzying rush when you walk into the Carnegie Deli. A host points you to the back; and as you walk towards the tables, you pass a counter full of meats and smoked-fish salads behind which sandwiches are made. Salamis hang like a curtain over the counter, adding their garlicky perfume to the air. At the back of the restaurant, or in the adjoining dining room, you will be directed to a place at a table where you sit elbow-to-elbow with strangers.

Forget privacy, peace, and quiet when you come here; a Carnegie meal is a noisy, down-to-earth communal experience shared by blasé regulars, wide-eyed tourists, and show-biz celebrities (whose pictures line the walls). This is a genuine New York landmark – the quintessential mid-town deli.

Featured in the Woody Allen movie “Broadway Danny Rose,” the Carnegie is best known for immense sandwiches made of corned beef, pastrami, brisket, turkey, chopped liver, and triple-decker combinations of ingredients. Beyond sandwiches, the large menu includes blintzes and potato pancakes, gefilte fish and pickled herring, borscht, and kreplach soup.

Our favorite thing to eat is the pastrami sandwich. Although purists gripe that the meat is no longer available hand-sliced, we have no complaints about the Carnegie’s machine-sliced pastrami. It is mellow and not too zesty, utterly tender and infused with fatty savor. It is ridiculously large – so tall that the top piece of rye bread appears to be merely an afterthought applied to the tower of meat. In fact, it is difficult to eat the ordinary way, by picking it up in your hands and taking a bite. Many customers go at it by piece-by-shred, directly from the plate. To accompany the monumental sandwiches, the Carnegie supplies perfect puckery accouterments – half-sour and sour dill pickles arrayed in silver bowls along the tables.

What To Eat

Carnegie Deli Recipes

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One Response to “Carnegie Deli”

Patricia Beninato

April 13th, 2007

Even though midtown Manhattan now seems to be a mess of mediocre chain restaurants among the neon signs advertising Broadway shows based on Disney movies, the red canopy of the Carnegie Deli is still a beacon for those who crave the authentic New York deli experience. It had been over a decade since my last visit, but walking in felt cozy and familiar, with the scents of cured meats and pickles hanging in the air and the black and white-clad waitstaff swapping quiet gossip on an early Saturday morning–which is one of the few times the place isn’t packed.

Although I have nothing against their justifiably legendary sandwiches and their matzoh ball soup is amazing, my favorite meal at Carnegie Deli has always been breakfast, which thankfully they serve all day. A mixed deli omelet (shreds of delectable pastrami and corned beef), pumpernickel toast, and incredible home fries which are actually brown and crispy… nothing better. Oh–and don’t forget the cheese blintzes with applesauce! I normally don’t like fish, but the novie at Carnegie Deli is one of my few exceptions. Like everything you get here portions are huge; if you ask for cream cheese or butter they bring you globs big enough to choke the proverbial horse. And if you want a piece of their famous cheesecake to top off your breakfast–that is, if you have room and/or are not planning to eat for the rest of the day–the staff is more than obliging. This is one of those places where if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault!

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