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Mar 22, 2005 01:53 PM

Chapel Hill: JJ's Deli

  • d

The Independent touts JJ's deli as an "authentic" New York deli. This is just one more example of local newspapers functioning are arms of the chamber of commerce. I happened to be in the neighborhood so I gave it a try. I ordered a reuben, which was nothing more than a half-inch layering of Boars Head corned beef heated in a microwave with some cheese and sauerkrautt and slapped onto two pieces of brownish supermarket bread ("pumpernickel"). For this faux-New York treat I paid $6. What a joke!

The legislature should pass a law against irresponsible use of the word "authentic."

David A.

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  1. I would use a great deal of scrutiny when evaluating the authenticity of these places. NY deli, NY pizza, heck, even the Mexican restaurants (run by Mexicans) on every corner don't serve authentic Mexican food. Usually a quick scan of the operations can tell you whether you're dealing with an impostor or a reasonable attempt at authentic whatever.

    La Russa in Meadowmont comes closest to a NYC delicatassen. And if you've been there, you'll know it's not very close at all (although it is tasty). Then again, I have never eaten at a place anywhere in the nation that comes close to doing what Katz' serves up.

    2 Replies
    1. re: banshee

      I would agree that La Russa's comes closest. It's a bit pricey, and not stellar, but at least it's in the ballpark. My wife and I will sometimes buy a pack of La Russa's frozen ravioli for six or seven dollars. They make a hearty, tasty meal.

      David A.

      1. re: David A.

        what else do they have in that freezer?

    2. agreed !

      i went to Nantucket Cafe where i was told i should try their "real deal, authentic New England clam chowder". what i got was a joke as well. they also touted their lobster bisque which looked like a runny milk w/ a tinge of red coloring to it.


      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. For the record, J & J's Deli in Chapel Hill is under new ownership since 2006. As the new owner, I personally guarantee that all Reubens are now prepared properly, on the grill.

          Katz' we are not, but we do our best.

          13 Replies
          1. re: JandJs

            Good for you! & I hope you aren't Katz's which was a poor deli, the 2nd Ave Deli (not in its new bad reincarnation) was the one fussy NY'ers went to.
            Rory, 3rd gen fussy jewish newyorker

            1. re: Rory

              I beg to differ. I've been to Katz's and 2nd Ave. Both are good, but Katz's Pastrami blows 2nd Ave away. I can't remember which other deli's I've been to up there though as they were back during my high school days.

              That being said I've been to J&J's a few times and my 2 complaints are the bread overtaking the sandwich and that the display case is sometimes a mess to figure out or something is near empty (which may just be get it before it is gone which I can understand).

              My closest experience to anything that tastes remotely close to a NY Deli is still Neal's.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Speaking of deli, has anyone tried the pastrami from The Pig? I've been meaning to, but haven't had the chance.

                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                  I'm going to the Pig tomorrow so will report on the Pastrami
                  BFoodie, feel free to differ, my opinion is as a true local ; been to Fine & Shapiro, Famous Dairy, Gus', whitefish from Murray's (better than Zabars) .the best deli was closed some years ago near Essex St.

                  1. re: Rory

                    I was at Katz and Russ and Daughters my last time up. Saw Murray's if you mean the cheese shop, but didn't get to it.

                  2. re: Tom from Raleigh

                    i have had the pastrami sandwich - it was pretty good, but i was distracted by the 'sprouts and shrooms' side dish. i like my pastrami not that lean - for example, i wish that neal's deli's pastrami were slightly more fatty. so - to each his own. :)

                    1. re: cervisiam

                      When I was at Katz, it was fatty as I didn't ask for lean and they gave me a taste/slice before giving the thumbs up, but I think that is how it has always been done.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        the Crown Deli was the best on Grand St., alas they're gone. Pastrami has to be fatty for the taste, that's the problem I have with Neals too,. Murray's was known as 'The Sturgeon King' It had the best sturgeon, whitefish....
                        Had the brisket at the Pig & it was delicious, so I bet their Pastrami is good too. Couldn''t resist brisket...

                        1. re: Rory

                          I thought Barney Greengrass is the "Sturgeon King".

                          1. re: Remsleep

                            self-promotion like the Carnegie Deli (yech) , Murray's was the best.

                            1. re: Remsleep

                              I also thought Barney Greengrass was the Sturgeon King.. actually if you ask anyone that question who has some idea.. that is probably who they will respond with.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                It's similar to thinking Mama Dips is great Southern Food...
                                here is Murray's obit

                            2. re: Rory

                              the pastrami is unapologetically unctuous at the pig - you'll need extra napkins. on rye bread with mustard and a side of pickled green tomatoes.

                              rory, why not order BOTH the brisket and pastrami next time? :)