2010-12-08 / Restaurant of the Week


Sal, Kris and Charlie’s Deli on 23rd Avenue in Astoria is simply legendary. For 70 years, it has been the little deli that could and the current ownership has been at the helm since 1987 offering pretty much one thing and one thing only; the best hero sandwich in NYC, according to many.

Before I tell you what this landmark deli has to offer, I would like to tell you what they don’t have. At Sal, Kris and Charlie’s Deli, you won’t find wraps, panini, pizza, tacos, gyros, burgers, sushi, smoothies, tofu, yogurt, fruit, nuts, nuggets, berries, sprouts, quiche, quesadillas, chow mein, or souvlaki. What you will find is the beauty and mastery of a well-constructed hero sandwich using the highest quality meats, cheeses, toppings and freshly baked bread. Add to that the passion that owners Sal and wife Kris, and sons Nick and John have for their family business, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

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. I’m told that some people share these sandwiches though most will devour the whole thing themselves. “The Italian” proposes prosciutto, Genoa salami, soppresata, pepperoni, sharp provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers and is best with olive oil and vinegar

sprinkled on top. Amazingly, these hefty heros are the house specials at just $7.50.

Wash it all down with perhaps the widest array of soft drinks in all of Queens. Manhattan Special espresso coffee soda, sarsaparilla and lemon lime are classic NY pops. Stewart’s old fashioned root beer, cream soda, grape and orange will

also bring back memories. A popular line of natural sodas called “Boylan’s” uses pure cane sugar and no artificial flavors or colors in their refreshing drinks. I loved the black cherry soda and you’ll also find grape, birch beer and cane cola. This is a soda even moms could like.


I loved “The Bomb” because of the freshness of the ingredients that allows you to actually taste each individual element…and the bread is fantastic! Being somewhat of a purist when it comes to sandwiches, I also had to try the classic roast beef hero. Nick, who is friendly and cheerful, personally made my sandwich with rare roast beef, as I had requested. Next, a smattering of peppers, a light shmear of mayo, lettuce and tomato and I was in Dagwood heaven. (I hope you get that reference). I accompanied my sandwiches with some of their super-fresh salads, made on the premises that include cole slaw, potato salad, marinated mushrooms and crunchy pickles. Make a simple sandwich of their fabulous chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad and shrimp salad that even the kids will love. Take containers home and make sandwiches for school all week long. By the way, their rice pudding is excellent and don’t forget to take some home with you.

Another secret to their success is the quality and freshness of the meats and cheeses. An 8-foot refrigerator displays dozens of hams, salamis, turkey, chicken, bologna, pastrami and more. With unusual varieties such as Buffalo chicken breast, spicy turkey, honey ham, spiced ham, Virginia ham and even low-salt varieties, you’ll never have to eat the same thing twice. Next come the cheeses, from the house made mozzarella, available at the counter to take home, to the provolone, both mild and sharp, Swiss cheese and American cheese, everyone can find their favorite. Amazingly, Nick reported that this case gets used up and replenished twice a week! Cold cuts and salads are also sold by the pound to take home. Practically all sandwiches run from $6 to $8, far cheaper than junk food and nowhere as good. For office and house parties, Gi-normous 6-foot sandwiches can be ordered and made to order. Call ahead to order.

Take a break from work at lunchtime, or stop in on your way to Astoria Park for a picnic lunch and enjoy perhaps the best sandwich you’ll ever have. Sal, Kris and Charlie’s is easy to find…just look for the line out the door at lunchtime composed of hardworking staff of NYPD, Con Edison, NYFD and local citizens who pay homage to the Sandwich Kings of Astoria. Sal, Kris and Charlie’s Deli is open seven days a week from 5am to 8pm and until 3pm on Sundays.

33-12 23rd Avenue, Astoria

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