Memorable | One of the Best
Harold’s New York Deli
Review by: Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Quantity, and Quality, Too
Harold’s Deli is a large, brash restaurant that serves enormous portions Jewish deli dishes at their best. Don’t be fooled by itscomically large servings; quantity is not all at Harold’s. Owner Harold Jaffe, once of the legendary Carnegie Deli in New York, sells some of the finest Jewish deli dishes to be found in the New York City area.
Located in a Holiday Inn in an unattractive collection of office parks and hotels, Harold’s is a classic New York Jewish deli (old Carnegie Deli model). In fact, many signature Carnegie menu items, such as Go, Giants, Go! (two foot long dogs with a giant knish), also appear on Harold’s menu. There is often a wait for tables; Harold’s is extremely popular.
What To Eat
The dual stars of the menu are pastrami and corned beef. Waiters no longer ask if you’d prefer lean or “juicy” (lots of fat). Unless you ask for one or the other, you get what they call “regular”, which is something in between. We’ve had it all three ways, and while the lean meats are moist and excellent, the fattier versions can be extraordinary (although once in a while they can overdo the fat). The pastrami, in particular, has a hauntingly smoky flavor and a steamy melting texture; not for fat-phobes. We feel confident in proclaiming that Harold’s, at its best, serves the finest pastrami sandwich around (and we’ve been to Katz’s and enjoyed their hand-carved meat).
How Much Do You Love Pickles?
Your sandwich gives you access to what is billed as the world’s largest pickle bar. Half-sours, full-sours, dills, sliced, spears, tomatoes, kraut, and fantastic health (or Claremont) salad (cabbage, carrots, peppers in a vinaigrette) are available, as are stacks of their good chewy-crusted rye bread and small onion biscuits and vanilla muffin gems. Sandwiches also come with spectacularly good sweet slaw.
Dive Deep Into Jewish Fare
The kasha varnishkes (buckwheat cooked with onions and bow-tie noodles) is wonderful. There is an “appetizer” called kreplach with dark fried onions. This is something like the Jewish version of St. Louis fried ravioli. The kreplach are sturdy little packages of dough and meat, but the real draw are those dark fried onions. They’d be worth ordering by themselves.
The mammoth knish is well-oiled and onioned, in both potato and kasha varieties. Terrific chicken soup (with bigger-than-softball-sized matzo balls, if you wish) and outstanding freshly-made blintzes are also available. There is an enormous menu of other things to eat, and much of what we’ve seen heading to other tables looks good. The Roumanian steak, in particular, looks promising. They even make that old NY diner/deli oddity: Chinese roast pork with Chinese mustard and duck sauce on garlic bread (yes, in a Jewish deli).
The cheesecake recipe keeps changing. Long ago, we believed that Harold’s serves the best cheesecake in the land. Today’s version is good, if not the world’s best, lightly sweetened and tasting mostly of cream and cheese and eggs, with no lemon or vanilla flavoring that we could detect. It sits on a thick, but not sweet, graham cracker crust. The eclair goes beyond comically large into preposterous territory. Your slice of layer cake will serve a table of six generously. A container of crunchy rugelach, speaking more of fruit and nuts and sugar than cream cheese, would be a nice sweet for when you get home.
The One And Only
There are a few Harold’s delis in NJ, but this is the only one actually owned and run by Harold Jaffe, and it is the only one we recommend for Jewish deli dishes at their best. You can usually spot the very friendly Harold schmoozing with customers somewhere in the restaurant. Prices are very high, but much of the food is sized to be shared. In fact, the menu recommends it; no sharing charge.
Directions & Hours
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What To Eat
Harold’s New York Deli Recipes
What do you think of Harold’s New York Deli?
6 Responses to “Harold’s New York Deli”
February 4th, 2022
Best corned beef EVER. Sooo much you have to take some home. I’ve been dying to go back,. You will be amazed at the amount of meat you get. You have to try it to believe it.
June 23rd, 2009
I have been to Harold’s several times, and every time I go I love it. My family and I have gotten into a routine: we order the pastrami, brisket, and turkey triple decker (from the create your own triple decker part of the menu), as well as an order of the french fries.
The first time I went to Harold’s I was in total awe of the dessert display. I was more in awe of the size of the sandwich and the fact that it fed six of us, and we had enough for leftovers! I also love to go over to the pickle bar and indulge in the half-sour pickles.
One time I really wanted to meet Harold, and our waitress told me he was there that night. He came over and took a picture with me. The next time I went I was celebrating my high school graduation, and Harold gave me a free dessert of my choice. I chose the apple strudel and it was just heavenly.
This is by far the greatest deli I’ve ever eaten at, and I look foward to every visit.
May 10th, 2008
After hearing about Harold’s from friends, family, and Roadfood.com users, I finally stopped in for lunch.
I had the cold borscht, a “small” corned beef sandwich, and hit the famous pickle bar. The cold borscht alone was worth the trip: very cool, refreshing and sweet. I could have easily had two more bowls and left content. The pickle bar is nothing short of amazing. The pickles are as fresh as it gets and packed with flavor, the pickled tomatoes are amazingly good, and the health salad is crunchy, sweet, and just tart enough from the vinegar to be addictive.
The pictures here of the sandwiches do not convey the sheer beauty of the food. The good corned beef is hot, lean, and tender. I managed to finish half of my small sandwich before calling it a day.
I am definitely going back to try the kasha knish, a hot tongue sandwich, and more of that pickle bar. Easily one of the best places I’ve been to in years.
May 4th, 2008
My family visited Harold’s in Edison, NJ. We were seated quickly and our waitress came over quickly. When we started ordering our food, we realized that our waitress did not speak English very well. My family is fluent in Spanish, and we even tried speaking to her in Spanish, which didn’t work well either. We tried to order alcoholic beverages; she said she did not know where the bartender was, and that we might as well just order a soda. I asked her to please send him over when she located him. Needless to say, an hour and a half later he hadn’t come.
When we ordered our food I explained that we wanted the triple-decker sandwich with pastrami, corned beef, roast beef and Swiss cheese. Since I had eaten there before I assured my family this was a large platter that would be enough for all of us. When she brought the platter over it was, in fact, huge but didn’t look like the sandwiches I had ordered previously. She told us we received what we ordered: the three meat platter. She never came back to see if we wanted another soda or even dessert until we were standing up and getting ready to leave.
At that point she handed us the bill and, much to our astonishment, the sandwich I ordered that is usually around $50 was $114. Needless to say we were not pleased; we asked the waitress to please review the bill. She again told us we were charged for what we ordered and I said no, we ordered a $50 sandwich, not $114 platter. She was very rude. IF I was to return to Harold’s, and she was going to be my waitress, I would actually get up and leave.
I really feel that we were ripped off because of her inability to communicate. The food was delicious – there was plenty of it – and it was out quickly but the waitress was just horrible.
Chris & Amy Ayers
December 4th, 2007
After striking out at Coffee An’ in Westport, CT because we were too early, we struck it rich at Harold’s New York Deli, an easy detour off I-95. You get what you pay for, indeed, as this was one of the most expensive breakfasts ever ($52 before tip), though we left with enough leftovers to feed a large family. At the table next to us, three adults were sharing a platter of three pancakes, and each one looked to be a foot in diameter.
Wanting to try a little of everything, we first ordered an egg sandwich with Taylor ham and cheese on a bagel. This monster, the biggest breakfast sandwich we’ve ever had, bar none, boasted 2-3 servings of Taylor ham and cheese, with possibly three scrambled eggs. Though we ordered it on a jumbo bagel, it was still impossible to pick up, let alone get our mouths around it. The ham and cheese were so juicy that the bottom bagel partially disintegrated before we could finish. Disassembly was required, and we consumed it layer by layer. Taylor ham is a New Jersey specialty, and its pressed deli quality belies its incredible juiciness and mild pork flavor. We know that a slice or two is common on breakfast sandwiches, but Harold’s piled close to a dozen slices on our sandwich.
Harold’s famous old-fashioned matzoh brei also sounded interesting, so we ordered that scrambled and with cherry preserves. Matzoh brei is crumbled matzoh bread scrambled up with eggs, and the cook could’ve used a dozen eggs for this massive dish. However, eggs with slightly soggy, slightly crisp crackers weren’t the taste sensation we’d hoped for. Even the canned cherry preserves did little to enhance the flavor.
In his numerous logbooks, Bruce Bilmes speaks highly of Harold’s pastrami, so what could be better for breakfast than fresh pastrami hash. Sautéed with onions, green peppers, and potatoes, this piled-high plate (a “side order,” mind you) could’ve been a pass-around platter at a boarding house: hunks of glistening pastrami, coarsely cut potatoes and onions, cooked well and slightly charred for a flavor explosion of salty, meaty goodness. This is truly one of the most unique hashes we’ve ever had.
Needless to say, the only dish we finished was the breakfast sandwich, leaving behind a slice or two of melted cheese on the plate. Our leftovers were packed in large aluminum steam-table trays, which provided a minimum of three more meals later in the week. We’d love to find a restaurant that could top the über-Texas-styled portions at Harold’s, and we can’t wait to return for a lunch of their famous triple-decker sandwiches… which could easily be lunch for a week afterwards! A fellow patron told us that we were brave to order so many items; he comes to Harold’s regularly and can only stomach a breakfast sandwich—and he’s hardly able to finish that. Maybe next time we’ll leave room to raid the dessert case at the entrance, full of foot-high cakes and mammoth pies.
August 31st, 2007
I had a small corned beef sandwich, but I don’t think small is in the vocabulary over at Harold’s. The sandwich came with two pieces of bread wrapped inside aluminum foil (we got take-out) and 13 ounces of very tasty, moist, lean corned beef. The meat was not very salty.
My co-worker ordered the Boss Burger, and this huge beef patty came smothered in cheese and pork roll. Upon opening the box it came in, we were hit with the sweet yet pungent smell of white onions, almost a whole onion, sliced neatly and laid thoughtfully amongst a head of lettuce. The aluminum foil box it came in could have easily been a silver platter by the looks of this gorgeous burger. My only complaint is that the two huge burgers come with only one kaiser roll for enjoying the meaty goodness.
In all, our selections served two people with food to spare.