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Apr 8, 2010 02:15 PM

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.

Billy's Delicatessen
216 N Orange St, Glendale, CA 91203

Billy's Deli & Cafe
5160 W 190th St, Torrance, CA 90503

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  1. 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.=)

    4 Replies
    1. re: tornadoliese

      "pretty good pastrami sandwich but not as good as Langers"

      Kinda goes without saying.

      1. re: tornadoliese

        Her name is Evelyn and I'm pretty sure she's not Italian.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          I worked at billys with evelyn for almost 6 yrs and don't be so sure she's not italian, she is very much italian all the way. I don't know of anyone who is more italian than here.

          1. re: ppncher69

            Well, she's got the most Jewish New York accent I ever heard west of the Colorado River...

      2. 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.

        10 Replies
          1. re: granadafan

            I've had their burgers, and they are very good. Every time I've gone there, it's been good!

            1. re: JosephEBacon

              Thanks. From the menu it looks like a good deal. We need the BurgerBuster guy to do a review on Billy's Deli!

              Billy's Deli & Cafe
              5160 W 190th St, Torrance, CA 90503

              1. re: granadafan

                I think the burgers are on special every Fri.

            2. re: granadafan

              I've always loved their patty melts....and they have the best pickles in the LA area.

            3. re: maxzook

              i agree that this isn't the best deli in LA but i DO think they have the best matzo ball soup in LA.

              1. re: tornadoliese

                the best matzo ball soup is at jerrys or sollys, it is the on;ly thing that either deli has thats any good at all. same owner, same recipie.

              2. re: maxzook

                "It's not even Brent's."
                Thank God...

                1. re: maxzook

                  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.

                  1. re: maxzook

                    The Woman In The Hat reports to me that Billy's, which had been, over the years, on the list of lunch places for her and The Ladies on Sundays in Glendale, has slid badly downhill; and is now, as of last week, off the list; sadly she reports dismal service, dusty surroundings, and barely acceptable food. Alas.

                  2. 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.

                    1. 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?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fcowie

                        Schreiner's Fine Sausages. Fish King.

                        Schreiner's Fine Sausages
                        3417 Ocean View Blvd, Glendale, CA 91208

                      2. Sadly, Evelyn died on January 13th. RIP