Sammi Saunter, Part 2: Joe’s Deli
blog by BuffaloDotCom • May 02, 2011 @ 5:03pm
Upscale, high-priced restaurants are not for everyone. After ten years of training at culinary school and work in New York City, California and Syracuse, Joe’s Deli owner Joe Lyons accepted that running an uppity luxury restaurant wasn’t for him. His passion for the craft hadn’t disappeared though—merely shifted in a new direction.
Joe’s Deli, on the corner of Hertel and Colvin just north of Nichols, resides in a blossoming section of Buffalo. Open since August of 2006, the spacious joint has earned awards from several local publications—Artvoice’s “Best Deli” in 2009 and 2010, Buffalo Spree’s “Best Deli Sandwich” in 2008, and Buffalo Soupfest winner for “Best Meat Soup” and “Best City Soup” in 2011. Our salivary glands were amped from the online menu photos, but were S.J. and Ben T. up for the challenge?
Ben T. chose the traditional Reuben (above) and S.J. devoured the Rachael Ann (below), a turkey Reuben suggested by Joe’s wife. Incidentally, menu options such as “I Love Lucy” and “I Love Leah” are based on his wife’s cravings while she was pregnant with each child. The couple’s third child is only five months old, however, and Joe wants the next sandwich to be reflective of the child’s personality. To be determined!
It’s not shocking that the deli is renowned for its meat; the corned beef was tender and flavorful yet well complemented by Russian dressing and sauerkraut. There was no dominating taste, which made Ben T. rejoice with a napkin-clenched fist pump. Lyons explained that the meat is soaked in brine for a few weeks, slow-cooked for 6-7 hours then sliced.
S.J. was in ecstasy; she explained that the turkey Reuben was hot, large and not “sauerkraut-y.” She was appreciative that her Rachael Ann was served on thin, quality rye bread that wasn’t too oily. Both of us were baffled by the hidden half pickle that cuddled next to the potato chips.
There’s local pride involved, too. Lyons’ deli buys from markets on Bidwell and Kenmore during the warmer months, supports Johnny’s Meats down the street and bags its produce from Tarantino’s or Guercio’s whenever possible. Joe explained how the fresh ingredients enhance his soup offerings—the deli is known for its award-winning soups, such as Reuben, pulled-pork, carrot ginger, pumpkin cider bisque and purple cauliflower, but also staples such as chicken noodle and minestrone. I didn’t have the gumption to try the Reuben soup, and honestly it might have been Reuben overkill (band name).
Joe’s Deli obviously has a different allure than Fera’s; the former is comfortable to sit and eat, while Fera’s is more for the stop-quickly-and-go crowd. It’s hard to go wrong with either place if you’re craving a sandwich.