Billy's Deli in Glendale -- fine catering
The sad task fell on me to procure food for the reception at my in-laws' house after my father-in-law's funeral yesterday. The funeral was at Mt. Sinai (next to Forest Lawn, near the L.A. Zoo), and I wanted to find something (a) relatively nearby, so I could pick up the food and get it to the house before everyone showed up after the funeral, and (b) acceptable to a group that would be at least 50% old Jewish folks.
A little web searching led me to Billy's Deli at 216 N. Orange St. in Glendale. From their very large catering menu (posted on their website), I picked stuffed eggs (what I would call deviled eggs), mini potato knishes, meatballs in sweet/sour sauce, lox/cream cheese spread, bagels, herring in sour cream, rye bread, potato salad, and cole slaw. I had no idea how many people might show up, but was shooting for ample food for 50. The tab came to about $485 (plus tax), and I asked Gloria, who apparently handles catering, to have it ready for pickup at 11:30.
When I arrived at 11:30 everything was ready to go. The garnishing on the eggs, potato salad, cole slaw and herring was very attractive, and the hot dishes (knishes and meatballs) were piping hot and ready. A couple of polite busboys helped me and my son load it all into the car. I was in and out of there in 10 minutes, no problems, no surprises.
And everything was just terrific. I particularly liked the potato salad (best I've had in a long time) and the herring (not just thrown into sour cream, but nicely spiced), but each dish was excellent. A lot of the guests -- and we are talking about people who know a good knish when they taste one -- asked me where I had gotten the food, and seemed surprised ("Glendale?!?") to find out. And the amount of food was more than ample for the crowd, which was closer to 60 than 50.
Especially considering that the choice had been essentially a shot in the dark, I was much more than pleased at how good everything was. I will certainly go back and see how they do on a pastrami sandwich.
216 N Orange St, Glendale, CA 91203
Billy's Deli & Cafe
5160 W 190th St, Torrance, CA 90503
Based on earlier Chowhound reviews, this here herring addict schlepped out to Glendale for a dose of Billy's. Only herrings in sour cream available -- they said they didn't have herrings in wine any more, nor any other type. But no matter, sour cream is fine by me. But their product was extremely disappointing -- very sweet, way too much cracked coriander seeds (a nice touch, in principle, but overdone), a ratio of about 4:1 onions to herring pieces, and the herrings were smushy and tasteless. Honestly, Vita brand is better (and I don't care for Vita). Maybe it was an off day (or year)? Frankly, the place looked run down, dark, and dismal; there was no-one there; and very little appetizing was on offer in the deli case. Though to be fair, I did go there at 4 pm.
Still looking for good herrings within 1/2 hr drive of Pasadena. Suggestions?
I'll second you on the potato salad - best deli PS I've had in LA - and getting jokes out of Evelyn. OK, just try to STOP her! Better yet, hang out at the counter sometime around noon when there's a steady stream of customers coming in to pick up orders, and see how many times she'll tell the same joke, over and over and over …
She's also one hell of a waitress. Of the couple who introduced us to the place, the guy is this crusty-before-his-time curmudgeon, and he and Evelyn clearly enjoy trying to out-crank each other, though the boy hasn't a chance.
Billy's is not Langer's. It's not even Brent's.
But it is a good, reliable second-tier deli. Over the years I've probably had a majority of the items on their menu and I've never been disappointed (or dazzled, for that matter.)
When you realize how awful some L.A. delis can be (coughJerryscough) and how few deli alternatives there are in the area ("Glendale", indeed), I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss Billy's. Considering its location and hours, not everyone can make it to Langer's.
Even Langer's isn't Langer's. Despite all the hoopla, neither I nor any of my friends think Langer's is any big deal at all.
I'm going to try Billy's.
NOT being Langer's sounds like a pretty good recommendation -- especially if Billy's comes in at less than the truly outrageous $14 that Langer's charges for a (really good bread, but otherwise nothing special) sandwich.
Billy's is my favorite deli in LA. If you head in to eat there try to be seated at a table with the thin, short, older Italian waitress with the NYC accent. ask her to tell you a joke. she is absolutely hysterical. Billy's has great chicken in a pot and a pretty good pastrami sandwich but not as good as Langers.=)