Deli, pastry, entrees and breakfast

by Brian Clarey

Here’s how it goes down: With one kid and a grandparent at the Greensboro Coliseum to watch basketball, a need arises to entertain the other two children with a vague promise, “something special.” It is decided that this special thing will be a meal at a restaurant. It can’t be too expensive, and we don’t want to go to our usual family haunts.

But as so often happen in our family, we are stumped as to where to go. “Don’t you write about restaurants every week?” my wife asks. “Shouldn’t you know of someplace to go?” Sadly, I come up blank, so we pile in the station wagon and head to our old neighborhood on North Battleground Avenue, pledging to stop at the first place that catches our eye. Fast-food joints are out, as are steakhouses and pizza places. And we don’t want to eat anywhere that’s clogged with beer-drinking basketball fans, which narrows our choices down even more. So we pull into a strip mall near the edge of town and spot NY Deli and Pastry. Our decision is made. It is affirmed when we enter and see just a couple occupied tables in the quiet dining room. This is the place for us. I’ve been hearing about the NY Deli since it was located in the gas station on the corner: great sandwiches, homemade desserts, reasonable prices. I harbor no illusions that this is an actual deli in the New York style — folks don’t stand in line at a long glass counter, I see no hirsute men in aprons slicing meat, nobody is yelling orders — but there is pastrami and corned beef on the menu, Cuban sandwiches and a meatball sub, and a bevy of hot Italian entrees. Like any respectable deli, the menu is vast and varied, begging to be explored. Plus, the walls are decorated with NY sports memorabilia and poster-sized photos of the greatest city in the world. It’s good enough for me. There is also a small, four-seat bar over which hangs a small flat-screen television — important if you’re tending a NCAA bracket. Ordering is easy and the food comes out quickly. My children like the macaroni and cheese. It is obviously homemade and served in a soup crock, which my 6-year-old calls a “leprechaun pot.” I love when he makes up words for things. I also love when he cleans his plate, which happened in short order. He also appreciated the sweet-potato fries, something he had heretofore refused to eat. My wife chooses from an extensive and creative selection of omelets — she goes for smoked salmon and caramelized onion, substituting feta cheese with no hassles. It comes with chunky hash browns, which are actually cooked through — something of a rarity even in New York’s finest diners. Feeling nostalgic, I go for the Times Square: hot, thinly sliced roast beef with Muenster cheese and Thousand Island dressing on pumpernickel. I was once arrested for truancy in Times Square, before Disney came in a ruined the whole thing, though I don’t share this story with my kids. The sandwich is tasty, though the meat is not piled high like in New York’s most famous delis — it doesn’t need to be. This is not the Carnegie Deli, and nobody will complain if they don’t get a full pound of meat on their sandwich. Desserts are made in house, and I sneak off to inspect the glass bakery counter, selecting a slice of Heath Bar cheesecake. It is a huge slice, light and fluffy, more in the Philadelphia style than New York, but my family doesn’t quibble when confronted with a huge, gooey dessert. We just take our forks and dig in.

While not exatly a true New York-style delicatessen, NY Deli &Pastry fits the bill for a hungry family looking for a respite frombuffets and pizza. Tasty sandwiches, hot entrees, allday breakfast and homemade desserts round out the fare. (photo by Hugh Latham)

NY Deli and Pastry 3724-C Battleground Ave. Greensboro 336.540.1645