Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

New deli: People moving to Denver from bigger cities--any bigger cities--invariably miss their hometown delis. I haven't been able to find anyone who can give me a reasonable explanation as to why so few delis here cut the mustard, but much of my mail comes from transplants desperate for good chopped liver or capicola.

Christian Olson, now of Lakewood, is in search of an Italian deli that meets his two criteria: real Italian food and good service. "Deli Italia has the first but not the second," he writes of the spot at 1990 Wadsworth. "They often make errors like incorrectly slicing prosciutto and are sometimes rude." Well, I've never seen Deli Italia miss on the prosciutto, but rudeness sometimes flavors the service there. Then again, since most of the truly great delis I've been to are in New York, rudeness just doesn't seem that unusual. A few other local Italian delis worth a try: Carbone Italian Sausage at 1221 West 38th Avenue, Old-Fashioned Italian Deli at 395 West Littleton Boulevard in Littleton, and Tony's Italian Sausage and Deli at 3855 Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. All three should fill Olson's bill.

Jewish delis take a hit in my mail bag, too. Craig (no last name) recently wrote to describe a meal he had at East Side Kosher Deli at 5475 Leetsdale. "For a scrawny pastrami on rye my check total was $4.85. This for a half a sandwich, mind you...and all I got was a scrawny amount of corned beef topped with some humdrum iceberg lettuce and tasteless tomato slice. I shouldn't leave out the slivered pickle wedge--something not even suitable for a horny Barbie doll, if you'll excuse my crude expression."

Hey, I'll not only excuse it, I'll agree with it. I stopped by the East Side and ordered a whole sandwich for $7.50 and didn't come close to getting my money's worth. The pastrami itself was excellent, but the pathetic portion was enough to make me feel like I'd just had my purse snatched on a New York subway. When I first moved here, East Side was one of my favorite stops, but the place seems to have gotten stingy of late. The best Jewish deli I've found in Denver for quality--although it's not completely kosher--is Zaidy's Deli at 121 Adams in Cherry Creek North.

To see what generosity can do for business, the East Side owners should stop by Kokoro at either 2390 South Colorado Boulevard or 1600 California Street. These bowl-busters are celebrating their ten-year anniversary by giving away 1,986 prizes on March 3. Congrats also to Fratelli's at 1200 East Hampden Avenue in Englewood, which celebrates thirty years of operation, and Annie's Cafe at 4012 East Eighth Avenue, my eighteen-month-old's favorite restaurant, which has been serving for thirteen years and six months longer than my toddler's been around.

And here's to longevity for Mel and Janie Master's Starfish now open at 300 Fillmore, the old home of the short-lived Cafe Iguana. Appropriately, Starfish offers mostly seafood, but with the Master touch (scallops and foie gras, anyone?). Get your fish fancy, or plain and simple, the two ways they'll offer it. "Sometimes you just want to put a little lemon on a fabulous piece of fresh fish, don't you think?" says Mel.

--Kyle Wagner

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner