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Harold's New York Deli

3050 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison, NJ - (732) 661-9100
Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on March 15, 2008 2:39 PM
Harold's Deli is a large, brash restaurant that serves enormous portions of food. Don't be fooled by those comically large servings; quantity is not all at Harold's. Owner Harold Jaffe, once of the legendary Carnegie Deli in New York, sells some of the finest Jewish deli dishes to be found in the New York City area.

Located in a Holiday Inn in an unattractive collection of office parks and hotels, Harold's is a classic New York Jewish deli (old Carnegie Deli model). In fact, many signature Carnegie menu items, such as Go, Giants, Go! (two foot long dogs with a giant knish), also appear on Harold's menu. There is often a wait for tables; Harold's is extremely popular.

The dual stars of the menu are pastrami and corned beef. Waiters no longer ask if you'd prefer lean or "juicy" (lots of fat). Unless you ask for one or the other, you get what they call "regular", which is something in between. We've had it all three ways, and while the lean meats are moist and excellent, the fattier versions can be extraordinary (although once in a while they can overdo the fat). The pastrami, in particular, has a hauntingly smoky flavor and a steamy melting texture; not for fat-phobes. We feel confident in proclaiming that Harold's, at its best, serves the finest pastrami sandwich around (and we've been to Katz's and enjoyed their hand-carved meat).

Your sandwich gives you access to what is billed as the world's largest pickle bar. Half-sours, full-sours, dills, sliced, spears, tomatoes, kraut, and fantastic health (or Claremont) salad (cabbage, carrots, peppers in a vinaigrette) are available, as are stacks of their good chewy-crusted rye bread and small onion biscuits and vanilla muffin gems. Sandwiches also come with spectacularly good sweet slaw.

The kasha varnishkes (buckwheat cooked with onions and bow-tie noodles) is wonderful. There is an "appetizer" called kreplach with dark fried onions. This is something like the Jewish version of St. Louis fried ravioli. The kreplach are sturdy little packages of dough and meat, but the real draw are those dark fried onions. They’d be worth ordering by themselves.

The mammoth knish is well-oiled and onioned, in both potato and kasha varieties. Terrific chicken soup (with bigger-than-softball-sized matzo balls, if you wish) and outstanding freshly-made blintzes are also available. There is an enormous menu of other things to eat, and much of what we've seen heading to other tables looks good. The Roumanian steak, in particular, looks promising. They even make that old NY diner/deli oddity: Chinese roast pork with Chinese mustard and duck sauce on garlic bread (yes, in a Jewish deli).

The cheesecake recipe keeps changing. We would once claim that Harold's serves the best cheesecake in the land. Today's version is good, if not the world’s best, lightly sweetened and tasting mostly of cream and cheese and eggs, with no lemon or vanilla flavoring that we could detect. It sits on a thick, but not sweet, graham cracker crust. The eclair goes beyond comically large into preposterous territory. Your slice of layer cake will serve a table of six generously. A container of crunchy rugelach, speaking more of fruit and nuts and sugar than cream cheese, would be a nice sweet for when you get home.

There are a few Harold's delis in NJ, but this is the only one actually owned and run by Harold Jaffe, and it is the only one we recommend. You can usually spot the very friendly Harold schmoozing with customers somewhere in the restaurant. Prices are very high, but much of the food is sized to be shared. In fact, the menu recommends it; no sharing charge.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
pastrami
Health Salad
Pickle Bar
Corned Beef Sandwich - 13 oz.
Kasha Varnishkes
Kasha Knish
Onion bread
Pastrami Sandwich - 26 oz.
Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwich
Linzer Tart
Rugelach
Corned Beef/Pastrami 26 Ounce Combo Sandwich
Chocolate New York Egg Cream-16oz.
Fried Kreplach
Cheese Blintzes
Chicken Noodle Soup - Cup
Rumanian Steak
Corned Beef/Pastrami Combo Sandwich - Large
Mushroom - Egg - Barley
Cheesecake
Potato Knish
French Fries
Roast Brisket Of Beef Sandwich - 13 oz.
Matzoh Ball Soup
Chicken Soup with Golden Noodles - Bowl
Single Potato Pancake
Hot Dog
Pastrami Reuben
Harolds Delicious French Fried Sweet Potatoes
Napoleon

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Posted By Chris & Amy Ayers on December 4, 2007 11:54 AM
After striking out at Coffee An’ in Westport, CT because we were too early, we struck it rich at Harold’s New York Deli, an easy detour off I-95. You get what you pay for, indeed, as this was one of the most expensive breakfasts ever ($52 before tip), though we left with enough leftovers to feed a large family. At the table next to us, three adults were sharing a platter of three pancakes, and each one looked to be a foot in diameter.

Wanting to try a little of everything, we first ordered an egg sandwich with Taylor ham and cheese on a bagel. This monster, the biggest breakfast sandwich we’ve ever had, bar none, boasted 2-3 servings of Taylor ham and cheese, with possibly three scrambled eggs. Though we ordered it on a jumbo bagel, it was still impossible to pick up, let alone get our mouths around it. The ham and cheese were so juicy that the bottom bagel partially disintegrated before we could finish. Disassembly was required, and we consumed it layer by layer. Taylor ham is a New Jersey specialty, and its pressed deli quality belies its incredible juiciness and mild pork flavor. We know that a slice or two is common on breakfast sandwiches, but Harold’s piled close to a dozen slices on our sandwich.

Harold’s famous old-fashioned matzoh brei also sounded interesting, so we ordered that scrambled and with cherry preserves. Matzoh brei is crumbled matzoh bread scrambled up with eggs, and the cook could’ve used a dozen eggs for this massive dish. However, eggs with slightly soggy, slightly crisp crackers weren’t the taste sensation we’d hoped for. Even the canned cherry preserves did little to enhance the flavor.

In his numerous logbooks, Bruce Bilmes speaks highly of Harold’s pastrami, so what could be better for breakfast than fresh pastrami hash. Sautéed with onions, green peppers, and potatoes, this piled-high plate (a “side order,” mind you) could’ve been a pass-around platter at a boarding house: hunks of glistening pastrami, coarsely cut potatoes and onions, cooked well and slightly charred for a flavor explosion of salty, meaty goodness. This is truly one of the most unique hashes we’ve ever had.

Needless to say, the only dish we finished was the breakfast sandwich, leaving behind a slice or two of melted cheese on the plate. Our leftovers were packed in large aluminum steam-table trays, which provided a minimum of three more meals later in the week. We’d love to find a restaurant that could top the über-Texas-styled portions at Harold’s, and we can’t wait to return for a lunch of their famous triple-decker sandwiches… which could easily be lunch for a week afterwards! A fellow patron told us that we were brave to order so many items; he comes to Harold’s regularly and can only stomach a breakfast sandwich—and he’s hardly able to finish that. Maybe next time we’ll leave room to raid the dessert case at the entrance, full of foot-high cakes and mammoth pies.
4 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By mary fay on January 14, 2012 9:02 PM
Just got back from Harold's New York Deli, and to be completely honest We were disappointed and I should have stayed home in Brooklyn and gone to my local Deli.

Let me start with this is not a Kosher Deli, they serve pork, it does not really matter to me but I expect the meat to have a certain level of quality. I could buy this sliced at my local butcher The Pastrami was a mediocre copy of actual N.Y deli Pastrami. The meat was not the same consistency it was more like the look and feel of boiled ham but it did have the edge of spices which was authentic. You did get a lot of meat but you do pay for it, and I really did not look forward to taking the leftovers home. Somehow the pastrami had a slight smokey taste which I never noticed in Pastrami before.

It was not terrible but not anything I would go back for.

The pickle bar had half sour, sour, dill, and 2 types of pickle chips, sourkraut, hot peppers, pickled tomatoes and cole slaw. Bread and muffins. The hot pickle chips were very good.

It was extremely crowded and there was a long wait for a table.

If I could not get real N.Y. Deli food or if you don't feel like a long drive and you live near Harold's than by all means make the trip and you will have a decent meal, but if you live in New Jersey and want really, really good Pastrami take a short drive over into any part of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan to a real Jewish Deli and get your Pastrami there it is SO WORTH the trip.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
French Fries
pastrami
Pickle Bar

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Posted By marcia on November 14, 2011 12:01 PM
I was born in Brooklyn, and lived there for more than 40 years, so I know delis. Recently, I moved to central New Jersey and I searched for a New York deli. I tried Harold's and my advice is stay far away. The derma wasn't encased; it was, rather, a mash of some inedible stuff. The potato pancake was horrible, cold and lacking taste. The pastrami was like leather and also tasteless. Awful is being kind!
0 star rating
Overall Rating
pastrami
Single Potato Pancake

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Posted By clive jackson on June 20, 2011 12:38 PM
Wow, incredible. I made two visits in two days. After my son played baseball on Saturday, I coaxed him in to going to Harold's. Well, one awesome (we shared) corned beef sandwich (and pickle bar) later, he was sold. We went back the next day to split a pastrami sandwich (his choice). It was the best (and Ii usually don't like pastrami), moist and huge. PS - the cheesecake was great also. Well worth every penny.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
pastrami
Cheesecake
Pickle Bar
Pastrami Sandwich - 26 oz.
Corned Beef Sandwich - 13 oz.

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Posted By Matthew Goodhartz on June 23, 2009 6:31 PM
I have been to Harold's several times, and every time I go I love it. My family and I have gotten into a routine: we order the pastrami, brisket, and turkey triple decker (from the create your own triple decker part of the menu), as well as an order of the french fries.

The first time I went to Harold's I was in total awe of the dessert display. I was more in awe of the size of the sandwich and the fact that it fed six of us, and we had enough for leftovers! I also love to go over to the pickle bar and indulge in the half-sour pickles.

One time I really wanted to meet Harold, and our waitress told me he was there that night. He came over and took a picture with me. The next time I went I was celebrating my high school graduation, and Harold gave me a free dessert of my choice. I chose the apple strudel and it was just heavenly.

This is by far the greatest deli I've ever eaten at, and I look foward to every visit.
0 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Frank Doosey on May 10, 2008 7:08 AM
After hearing about Harold's from friends, family, and Roadfood.com users, I finally stopped in for lunch.

I had the cold borscht, a "small" corned beef sandwich, and hit the famous pickle bar. The cold borscht alone was worth the trip: very cool, refreshing and sweet. I could have easily had two more bowls and left content. The pickle bar is nothing short of amazing. The pickles are as fresh as it gets and packed with flavor, the pickled tomatoes are amazingly good, and the health salad is crunchy, sweet, and just tart enough from the vinegar to be addictive.

The pictures here of the sandwiches do not convey the sheer beauty of the food. The good corned beef is hot, lean, and tender. I managed to finish half of my small sandwich before calling it a day.

I am definitely going back to try the kasha knish, a hot tongue sandwich, and more of that pickle bar. Easily one of the best places I've been to in years.
4 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Holly Feijo on May 4, 2008 9:42 PM
My family visited Harold's in Edison, NJ. We were seated quickly and our waitress came over quickly. When we started ordering our food, we realized that our waitress did not speak English very well. My family is fluent in Spanish, and we even tried speaking to her in Spanish, which didn't work well either. We tried to order alcoholic beverages; she said she did not know where the bartender was, and that we might as well just order a soda. I asked her to please send him over when she located him. Needless to say, an hour and a half later he hadn't come.

When we ordered our food I explained that we wanted the triple-decker sandwich with pastrami, corned beef, roast beef and Swiss cheese. Since I had eaten there before I assured my family this was a large platter that would be enough for all of us. When she brought the platter over it was, in fact, huge but didn't look like the sandwiches I had ordered previously. She told us we received what we ordered: the three meat platter. She never came back to see if we wanted another soda or even dessert until we were standing up and getting ready to leave.

At that point she handed us the bill and, much to our astonishment, the sandwich I ordered that is usually around $50 was $114. Needless to say we were not pleased; we asked the waitress to please review the bill. She again told us we were charged for what we ordered and I said no, we ordered a $50 sandwich, not $114 platter. She was very rude. IF I was to return to Harold's, and she was going to be my waitress, I would actually get up and leave.

I really feel that we were ripped off because of her inability to communicate. The food was delicious - there was plenty of it - and it was out quickly but the waitress was just horrible.
3 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Mark Baltuskonis on August 31, 2007 5:12 PM
I had a small corned beef sandwich, but I don't think small is in the vocabulary over at Harold's. The sandwich came with two pieces of bread wrapped inside aluminum foil (we got take-out) and 13 ounces of very tasty, moist, lean corned beef. The meat was not very salty.

My co-worker ordered the Boss Burger, and this huge beef patty came smothered in cheese and pork roll. Upon opening the box it came in, we were hit with the sweet yet pungent smell of white onions, almost a whole onion, sliced neatly and laid thoughtfully amongst a head of lettuce. The aluminum foil box it came in could have easily been a silver platter by the looks of this gorgeous burger. My only complaint is that the two huge burgers come with only one kaiser roll for enjoying the meaty goodness.

In all, our selections served two people with food to spare.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Boss Burger

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