Best Delicatessen - 2007
Sam's - CLOSED
It's all about the pastrami. In Miami, the word "deli" is used to refer to almost any eatery that has any kind of food behind glass counters. But New Yorkers know that "deli" doesn't merely mean a place. Deli is also a food group. And the assumed word preceding it is "Jewish." When you eat deli, you're talking pastrami, corned beef, brisket, all-beef franks with sauerkraut, odorous housemade sour and half-sour pickles, "salads" (like potato and macaroni, not mesclun; cole slaw is as green as it gets with deli), and a belly-busting assortment of the tasty carbs that nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe brought to America: potato pancakes, knishes, kasha, crusty caraway-seeded rye bread, and so on. The almost-two-year-old kosher deli Sam's has all these items, and the meats are especially terrific. Corned beef and brisket are both homemade. And while the pastrami isn't (because it requires a special smoker), it's prepared according to the deli's own recipe, resulting in a product that, like good Cuban food, is beautifully spiced but not at all spicy. Both corned beef and pastrami come either lean or regular the latter meaning properly fatty (the extra flavor is well worth the cholesterol, though pricey: $21.95 per pound versus $17.95 for regular meat). What Sam's hasn't got is smoked fish. But since Arnie & Richie's, just a block away, has fabulous nova, pickled herring, and so on, the absence is not annoying. After one of Sam's mega-size sandwiches ($11.99 for pastrami or corned beef, $.99 more for lean; $12.99 for brisket), diners could use the walk.