March 3 – Cold Cuts Day
Is there anything better than a big, meaty cold cut sub from your favorite deli? I’m not talking hot pastrami, or even corned beef sandwiches here. This is the local place in your neighborhood, been around since your parents were little, one guy behind the counter with a meat slicer and rows upon rows of cold cut meats, cut to order. And all they make there is sandwiches: no special plates, not even chicken noodle soup. (Okay, sometimes there’s some cole slaw there.) I’m talking sandwiches and that’s it. But what they do have are amazing, hearty sandwiches, with almost enough meat stuffed into a Kaiser roll that you have to unhinge your jaw like a snake to get it all in. And don’t forget about the bag of deli-style kettle potato chips from Wise, or the full-sour pickle. (And it better have come from a barrel!)
My neighborhood sandwich shop growing up was Jimmy’s Famous Heros on Sheepshead Bay Road, within spitting distance of the water. For $7 I would get a turkey breast sandwich on a roll, with lettuce, onions, and mayo, and it would be almost too large for my little palms. It was fantastic. I haven’t been back in a long time but the storefront hasn’t changed; nothing’s changed about the place in over forty years, from what I can tell. I like that kind of constancy in my deli, in my neighborhood: it’s an old-Brooklyn feeling that you can’t possibly get from the trendy neighborhoods and all the gentrification happening north of here. I can forget about how my city, my world, is changing for an hour or so if I take my Jimmy’s Famous sandwich, wrapped in waxy butcher paper, over to the bay, plop down on one of the benches, ward away the seagulls, and enjoy my lunch in peace.
But enough about my own preferences 😛 Once again we’re talking about the “best” in New York City, and while my Jimmy’s Famous may be my favorite, it’s far from actually being famous in the city. That special award goes to Astoria, where Sal, Kris, & Charlie’s Deli resides. It’s arguably the most celebrated American style deli in the city (as to separate it from Jewish-American delis, where you can argue for days on the best) and has the behemoth of deli heros that you wouldn’t even believe. Subway sandwich it is not: their signature sub, the Bomb, has everything on it–everything. Nearly every shaved deli meat and cheese you could name off the top of your head, along with the regular sandwich fixins, all on a huge hoagie loaf. It’s been called “the kitchen sink of American deli sandwiches,” and has gotten recognition and attention from a number of websites and magazines. The best part? For the same price as my turkey on a roll in Sheepshead Bay, you can get onto the Q to Astoria and pick up the Bomb–which will easily last you longer than an hour.
Sal, Kris & Charlie’s Deli
33-12 23rd Ave, Astoria
“Perhaps the most famous sandwiches here are “The Bomb” and “The Italian”. All sandwiches are constructed on freshly baked bread from the Bakery Boys of NY. The bread looks Italian but has more of a French bread crust to allow for easier eating. With regular and multi-grain varieties, you can choose your favorite. The Bomb combines layer upon layer of thinly sliced ham, turkey, roast beef, pastrami, mortadella, pepperoni, mild provolone cheese, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, hot and sweet roasted peppers and your choice of mayo, mustard, olive oil and vinegar or all of them, if you like. The result is nearly a 2-pound masterpiece of sandwich craft. You’ll need both hands, lots of napkins and perhaps a little help from your friends.”–Queens Gazette
“What’s on The Bomb ($7) at Sal, Kris, and Charlie’s Deli in Astoria? Like the sign behind the counter says, everything. No, seriously. Every. Damn. Thing. All on really great hero bread with a shatteringly crisp exterior and airy crumb (from Corona’s Bakery Boys of New York). Ask one of the deli guys for specifics, and you better have time for the answer, because they will rattle off a list as long as your arm.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My wife and I bought the bomb and split it both of us between 2 meals. Bread is soft, meat is delicious and fresh. They move through so much inventory that it’s always fresh. It looks ridiculous and they’ve perfected the amount of heat, spice, meat, sweetness…. Okay, I’m going to go get one now.”–Daniel C.
“Truly, too big for its own good. The absolutely absurd amount of meat is layered carefully, along with cheese and various other accoutrement…but it’s all for naught. Because after one bite, it’s abundantly clear just how messy a meal this will be. There’s simply no way to contain all the goodness between the two halves of the hero. The only sensible solution is stuff it all into your mouth, as quickly as possible.”–Peter D.