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Dec 15, 2012 10:54 AM

Pastrami, Tamales, and Eggs...Oh My! Varvaro's Delicatessen in White Plains

We had to take the car in for repairs yesterday and happened to be near Varvaro's Delicatessen (48 Russell Street, White Plains). I sent hubby in there to grab a bagel for me.

Along with the bagel, he brought out a huge wrap, a Brobdingnagian tamale, an apple turnover, and a hard boiled egg (just one, Marx Brothers fans). We ate at home.

The wrap he procured was the New Yorker (pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, and mustard). I swear it was the width of my fist and was awfully close to a pound in weight. The pastrami was sublime. Not first-cut, but with a lot of the fat beautifully rendered off and permeating the meat to a juicy finish. The grainy mustard, kraut, and Swiss were great counterpoints, but the pastrami was the star.

The tamale was the biggest I'd ever seen. This isn't always a good sign, but it was in this case. It was wrapped carefully in what I think were banana leaves. Dang, the texture was so light and fluffy, like the world's greatest matzoh ball (if matzoh balls were corn-based). It was filled, and I mean FILLED, with a delicious chicken tinga. I had to fight to get a couple of bites before hubby gobbled it up. The leaves gave the outer portion of the tamale a slightly smoky tea flavor reminiscent of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. It was so fabulous, we picked up 2 more when the car was ready. I had mine for breakfast this morning.

The hard-boiled egg, as simple as it was, was done so well. It was presented in a little wax bag which included a single serving of salt. I love that kind of thoughtfulness.

We had the turnover a bit later and it was fabulously flaky, with an outer glaze thar tasted like honey. The filling was average. It was all about the pastry. We ended up picking up another of these later as well.

This place also has hot lunches, so we're excited to try these when doing last-minute shopping next week. I think the tamales alone are worth the repeat visit, but don't forget the pastrami!

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  1. Thanks! This place is right near City Limits and Staples--I'm sure many of us have passed by while on the shortcut road from the northern part of Central Avenue to get onto 287.

    Do you know if there are any tables for eating in the deli?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Elisa515

      Right there under our noses!

      There might have been a table or two in the back, but it's more of a store than a restaurant.

    2. THANKS for the recommendation foodiemom10583. I've passed by that place many times, noticing the day workers waiting outside, but never stopped. I love tamales & being it was the holiday season, that's what caught my attention. We stopped in last week & I couldn't offer a better description than what you've already posted. What wonderfully gracious people, and Elisa515 there are a few tables in the back, but it's not a place you'll be going for the atmosphere. The tamales however ... they said they were chicken w/red sauce for $2.75 each so we took 4 to go. They included 2 of those hard-boiled egg bags. I couldn't believe how heavy our sack was! One tamale was plenty for each of us for dinner ... burrito-sized, topped w/some fresh avocado slices & cilantro. Fine, light masa ... lots of chicken & nary a bone or piece of gristle ... wonderfully seasoned & moist f/those banana leaves. (One of the few times I'm willing to by-pass knowing the source of the ingredients!)

      1 Reply
      1. re: mtrosellis

        Mtrosellis, I'm so pleased you enjoyed the tamales! They've been on my mind all week. If you find any other treasures there, I'd love to hear about them.

      2. Do they have other tamales? I am partial to pork in salsa verde.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JMF

          I usually prefer green tamales as well, but I don't think they were available when we were there. These weren't overpoweringly "roja," if that makes sense.

          Edited to add that my husband's there right now and said they only had the chicken available today.

          1. From what I gather here, tamales is definitely the way to go.

            And, it's on Russell Street. Thank goodness there's a comedian's name I utter all the time (in jest) to practice my Punjabi. I should be able to remember the street address thanks to him -->