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Carnegie Deli

854 7th Ave, New York, NY - (212) 757-2245
Posted By Michael Stern on 7/22/2008 4:00:00 PM
The aroma of cured deli meats and sour pickles is a dizzying rush when you walk into the Carnegie Deli. A host will point you to the back; and as you walk towards the tables, you pass a counter full of meats and smoked-fish salads behind which sandwiches are made. Salamis hang like a curtain over the counter, adding their garlicky perfume to the air. At the back of the restaurant, or in the adjoining dining room, you will be directed to a place at a table where you sit elbow-to-elbow with strangers.

Forget privacy, peace and quiet when you come here; a Carnegie meal is a down-to-earth communal experience shared by blasé regulars, wide-eyed tourists, and lots of show-biz celebrities (whose pictures line the walls). This is a genuine New York landmark – the quintessential mid-town deli.

Featured in the Woody Allen movie "Broadway Danny Rose," the Carnegie is best known for immense sandwiches made of corned beef, pastrami, brisket, turkey, chopped liver, and triple-decker combinations of ingredients. Beyond sandwiches, the large menu includes blintzes and potato pancakes, gefilte fish and pickled herring, borscht and kreplach soup.

Our favorite thing to eat is the pastrami sandwich. Although purists gripe that the meat is no longer available hand-sliced, we have no complaints about the Carnegie's machine-sliced pastrami. It is mellow and not too zesty, utterly tender and infused with fatty savor. It is ridiculously large – so tall that the top piece of rye bread appears to be merely an afterthought applied to the tower of meat. In fact, it is difficult to eat the ordinary way, by picking it up in your hands and taking a bite. Many customers go at it by piece-by-shred, directly from the plate. To accompany the monumental sandwiches, the Carnegie supplies perfect puckery accouterments – half-sour and sour dill pickles arrayed in silver bowls along the tables.

Aside from the food, one of the pleasures of dining at the Carnegie is eavesdropping, which you do whether or not you want to because you are seated so close to other people. We remember a visit several years ago when one little old lady sitting near us shouted to her friend across the table, "Today I saw the doctor." The sparrow-sized woman actually had to crane her head high to see over her sandwich – a mountain of pastrami combined with an inch-and-a-half of chopped liver sandwiched in rye. "His office is nearby. I make my appointment in the morning, so I can come here when I am through." She expertly hefted half of the mighty sandwich in her two tiny hands, inhaling steam wafting up from the warm pink meat. Before taking that first delicious bite, she proclaimed loud and clear for all the table to hear: "First I have my treatment … then I have my treat!"

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Matzoh Ball Soup
Blintzes
Pastrami Sandwich
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Thinking of ordering the combination corned beef and pastrami sandwich known as the Woody Allen?  Bring friends.  Lots of them!
"Thinking of ordering the combination corned beef and pastrami sandwich known as the Woody Allen? Bring friends. Lots of them!"
Cliff Strutz





While The Woody Allen is incredibly delicious I foolishly thought I could tackle this whole sandwich single-handedly at the table.  Woody had me beat early on in the game.
"While The Woody Allen is incredibly delicious I foolishly thought I could tackle this whole sandwich single-handedly at the table. Woody had me beat early on in the game."
Bill Homan


A bevy of cured meat sandwiches waiting to be devoured by eager aficionados.
"A bevy of cured meat sandwiches waiting to be devoured by eager aficionados."
Bill Homan


Given its astronomical price, the Carnegie's pastrami sandwich ought to be tall. But this is ridiculous. There is enough meat here for three sandwiches. In fact, it is possible to get extra bread, but the management will charge extra if you share a sandwich with your tablemate. Price and logistics aside, this is one great pastrami sandwich.
"Given its astronomical price, the Carnegie's pastrami sandwich ought to be tall. But this is ridiculous. There is enough meat here for three sandwiches. In fact, it is possible to get extra bread, but the management will charge extra if you share a sandwich with your tablemate. Price and logistics aside, this is one great pastrami sandwich."
Michael Stern


The Carnegie's good corned beef and pastrami goes into the mixed deli omelet.  We wish the bagels were better, though.
"The Carnegie's good corned beef and pastrami goes into the mixed deli omelet. We wish the bagels were better, though."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Soup is served the traditional deli way. A bowl is set down, then the waiter decants the soup from a silver pitcher into the bowl. This is the best matzoh ball soup we've ever had in a restaurant: robust, salty broth and matzoh balls as tender as a sigh.
"Soup is served the traditional deli way. A bowl is set down, then the waiter decants the soup from a silver pitcher into the bowl. This is the best matzoh ball soup we've ever had in a restaurant: robust, salty broth and matzoh balls as tender as a sigh."
Michael Stern


Blintzes are available filled with cheese, strawberry, blueberry, or cherry. These are plain cheese, served with sour cream. Apple sauce is the other available condiment.
"Blintzes are available filled with cheese, strawberry, blueberry, or cherry. These are plain cheese, served with sour cream. Apple sauce is the other available condiment."
Michael Stern


Served pancake-style, the kosher salami is nicely-browned before getting mixed with the eggs.  The potatoes on the side are actually pretty good, too.
"Served pancake-style, the kosher salami is nicely-browned before getting mixed with the eggs. The potatoes on the side are actually pretty good, too."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Pastrami piled high on rye - extra bread is a must for this sandwich.
"Pastrami piled high on rye - extra bread is a must for this sandwich."
Jack Barry


Nova, eggs, and onions is a brilliant combination of sweet, salty, and mellow, and is commonly found on Jewish-style deli/smoked fish menus.
"Nova, eggs, and onions is a brilliant combination of sweet, salty, and mellow, and is commonly found on Jewish-style deli/smoked fish menus."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


A curtain of drying salamis hangs in front of the deli counter.  If you've never tried a sandwich made from dried Kosher salami, we highly recommend that you try one.  Very different from Italian-style Genoa and hard salamis.
"A curtain of drying salamis hangs in front of the deli counter. If you've never tried a sandwich made from dried Kosher salami, we highly recommend that you try one. Very different from Italian-style Genoa and hard salamis."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Sour pickles in the foreground, half-sours in the back.
"Sour pickles in the foreground, half-sours in the back."
Jack Barry


74 years and still going.
"74 years and still going."
Bill Homan


No matter where you sit in the Carnegie Deli, you will be surrounded by pictures of celebrities. Above our table, NBC's Al Roker was looking down with a big smile.
"No matter where you sit in the Carnegie Deli, you will be surrounded by pictures of celebrities. Above our table, NBC's Al Roker was looking down with a big smile."
Michael Stern


A sea of people and who's who pictures on the walls in the back room.
"A sea of people and who's who pictures on the walls in the back room."
Bill Homan


There are many delis in this neighborhood, but the Carnegie is the daddy of 'em all.
"There are many delis in this neighborhood, but the Carnegie is the daddy of 'em all."
Michael Stern



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