New Jersey transplants Mike and Janet Feldman were drawn to Utah during the 2002 Winter Olympics for work — and then were compelled to stay by the fantastic scenery. The only one drawback to their new home was the lack of a true New York City/Jewish deli.
The couple set about rectifying that shortcoming opening Feldman’s Deli, in a low-key strip mall on the east side of Salt Lake City.
The interior of the restaurant is a mix of comfortable and cool. A counter space, fronting the kitchen area, greets guests as they walk in, but Feldman’s is a full service restaurant, and most patrons sit at one of the many sturdy wooden tables and chairs, in the bright open dining room. The subtle decor has a ski chalet charm with antler-styled lighting fixtures hanging from exposed wooden roofing beams.
The understated appeal of the room is matched by a pleasingly succinct menu. There are a handful of soups and starters, sandwiches and bagels and desserts, and that’s that. For starters, Potato Pancakes ($4) with applesauce or sour cream are appetizing enough, as is a Knish ($4)— an onion and potato filled pastry. Gefilte Fish ($4.50) on the other hand, served with beet horseradish, is most definitely an acquired taste.
For most diners, Feldman’s menu will start and end with their selection of New York-style deli sandwiches — the same monumentally meaty constructions made famous by Carnegie’s and Katz’s. While the meat at Feldman’s is imported from back East, the exact supplier is a semi-secret. My server explained that Feldman’s isn’t an official franchisee, so it can’t openly advertise the product it uses — but the stuff is legit.
From the hot pastrami to the hot corned beef (both $11.50) to the corned beef Reuben (swiss, sauerkraut, thousand island, $12.50), each sandwich is an eye popping half pound stack of mouth watering meat, piled high and wide and held heroically in place, atlas-like, between two slices of Jewish rye bread.
For the indecisive, and particularly hungry, I’d suggest the deceivingly named Sloppy Joe ($12.50). This behemoth piles on both corned beef and pastrami (a half pound in total), earning its moniker from the slathering of thousand island dressing and creamy coleslaw, everything crammed between three layers of Jewish Rye. Don’t feel sheepish about digging in and getting messy, it’s a rite of passage figuring out how to tidily devour this colossal creation — before failing in glorious fashion.
Cold cut sandwiches are equally impressive ($9.50) and mighty enough to stretch over two sittings. Choose from turkey, roast beef or ham on Jewish rye, white, wheat or sourdough. The turkey was loaded with flavorful meat, that actually tasted like turkey. The all-beef Jewish salami ($8.50) sandwich from the cold cuts section also didn’t disappoint.
Sandwiches come with choice of house-made, skin-on french fries, creamy coleslaw, ho-hum potato salad, or “healthy” salad. That would be the order I’d rank them, with the fries as my runaway favorite. Should you wish to split a sandwich, keep in mind there’s a $2 charge, which is what you can subtract from any sandwich if you merely want a half order.
Some folks might balk at the lofty prices, but I won’t. This is a quality product top to bottom.
Those with a sweeter tooth should hang around for a slice of one of the five different cakes. New York Cheesecake ($4.50) is so dense and rich it can be shared with a friend. For something lighter, try the coconut lemon cake ($4.50).
In addition to late breakfast and lunch, the restaurant opens for evening meals Thursday through Saturday. But it’s a fluid affair. Evenings guests might be treated to a special such as chicken paprikash, brisket or whitefish, or then again you might not. Specials change often and sometimes even standard items can run out. On my first visit, a plan to sample the latkes was scuttled by a lack of supply, and on a second trip I grabbed the last of that day’s freshly boiled and baked bagels — which are exceptionally good ($2.50).
The restaurant also continues to evolve, this summer the owners plan to open a patio for dining as well as import — from the Jersey boardwalk — an Italian hot dog. This deep-fried, all-beef hotdog is topped with sauteed onions and peppers and served in pizza bread.
With such gloriously guilt-inducing dishes I’m glad the Feldmans decided to call Utah their home.
Food • HHH
Mood • HH
Service • HH
Noise • bb
A legitimate New York-Jewish deli arrives in Salt Lake City, offering fresh boiled and baked bagels and sandwiches piled high and wide.
Location • 2005 E. 2700 South, Salt Lake City; 801- 906-0369
Online • feldmansdeli.com
Hours • Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch; and Thursday - Saturday 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for dinner.
Children’s menu • No
Prices • $$
Liquor • No
Reservations • No
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • No
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • all major