Delis are to North Jersey what Robin is to Batman. Every town has them— some old, some new. This over-abundance can be intimidating for some, but for us, it’s beguiling.
Michael’s Salumeria – Lyndhurst, NJ
For 30 years, Michael’s Salumeria has provided Lyndhurst with authentic Italian sandwiches, platters and salads. The menu is small, but they make an obvious effort to focus on quality over quantity. Whether it be the imported mortadella sandwich with ricotta and tomato, or the house-made chicken salad with grapes, almonds and balsamic, Michaels’ amplifies every ingredient that leaves their kitchen by keeping it simple and of the highest quality.
Mike’s Pasta and Sandwich Shoppe – Nutley, NJ
In a state full of rich deli history, Mike’s is still considered a new kid on the block. The deli counter has numerous offerings and each item is handcrafted with excellence. Options include take-home pints of their truffle mac n cheese, or a classic Italian Sub with ham, salami, provolone, cherry peppers, lettuce, tomato, onion and oil and vinegar— but they do not shy away from custom sandwiches either. Handmade extruded and egg pastas are available for purchase, which sets Mike’s apart from the rest.
Clemente Bakery – South Hackensack, NJ
I already know what you’re thinking: “A bakery?!” But, hear me out. Clemente Bakery makes some of the best sandwich bread around, and naturally, they make some of the best sandwiches to go with it. Everything from sopressata with house-made mozzarella to chicken cutlet with prosciutto. The bread is so good that Oscar Meyer bologna could fill it and I’d be happy, but Clemente fils it with top notch ingredients—making for one of the best sandwich experiences one could have. Breakfast, stuffed pepperoni rolls and fried seafood are also popular amongst regulars. It would be difficult to find something at Clemente Bakery that isn’t remarkable.
Sparo’s Deli – Upper Montclair, NJ
Sparo’s is an Italian American deli whose mission is to transport guests back to their childhood using family recipes that have been passed down for generations. Prepared specialties like broccoli rabe, eggplant cutlets and macaroni salad are nostalgic of my childhood, but it is their Lil Gracie sandwich that keeps me coming back. Freshly roasted pork, broccoli rabe, provolone and Duke’s Mayo is complete with a fresh semolina roll, and gravy for dipping. This sandwich is an homage to the original which can be found at John’s Roast Pork in Philadelphia, PA. You can order it here, along with any of Sparo’s other handcrafted specialties.
Millburn Deli – Millburn and Montclair, NJ
This one is a surprise to no one. Millburn Deli has been dishing out sandwiches to North Jersey for 70 years now with no signs of slowing down. The menu is expansive covering Italian, American and Jewish specialties. Their famous Sloppy Joe is a fan favorite, but it is nothing like what you might be imagining. Your choice of house-roasted meat is piled high on three pieces of rye bread with fresh coleslaw and Russian dressing. The sandwich is cut into not two, but three pieces— which has become the ubiquitous sign of a Millburn Deli sandwich. You can order the Sloppy Joe or any of their specialties online.
Annamaria’s Deli – East Rutherford, NJ
Annamaria’s is like a portal directly to Italy. You won’t find American cheese or turkey here, but what you will find are imported Italian meats, cheese and oils. It is the perfect place to grab a freshly made sandwich, or to look for hard-to-find Italian products like the creamy Italian Bel Paese cheese or Galeffi, a fizzy lemon beverage meant to aid digestion. The imported Italian tuna and sardines are both delicious and a rare find, and the house-made porchetta featured on their Andrea sandwich is the reason I can’t get enough of this place. Annamaria’s takes orders here, and we suggest trying it sooner rather than later.
Wallington Deli – Wallington, NJ
This Italian-American joint dishes out hot and cold sandwiches at a rapid rate. Mozzarella is made fresh every single day, and their sandwiches— hot or cold— are served on long ciabatta rolls. The chicken cutlet subs are abundant, but it’s items like the cheesesteak that prove they can do it all. Wallington Deli in Wallington, NJ has figured out what works, and they haven’t changed since. No bells, no whistles, just great deli food.
Cosmo’s Italian Salumeria – Hackensack, NJThis retro deli will have you feeling like you walked back in time upon entering the doors. The food will make you feel the same way. Cosmo’s serves the type of grub one might expect when walking into a deli in Jersey—classic, Italian-American specialties, done right. Cold cut subs are understandably well done and the hot roast beef with fresh mozzarella special gives Fiore’s a run for their money. Hot roast beef is piled high, layered with freshly pulled mozzarella. The beauty of a place like Cosmo’s is in the service. Sandwiches are always left up to you: “Lettuce, tomato, onion? No? Okay.” Owners Cosmo and Lorenza will not let you leave dissatisfied. It’s places like this that make me immensely proud to call myself a New Jerseyan.
A Family Affair – Fairlawn, NJ
Meatballs, peppers filled with sharp provolone and sopressata, homemade sfogliatelle, brick oven bread— A Family Affair in Fairlawn, NJ certainly serves more than just sandwiches. Owner, Eddie Tisi, is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to his wildly popular deli. Above all, a sense of familiarity and belonging hits you in the face when walking into A Family Affair, assuring you that not only will you be back, but you will be back soon. Whether it be for large catering orders, or just lunch on the go, this deli is a cannot-miss.
Deli King of Clark – Clark, NJ
This Kosher delicatessen is bound to please even the most old-school of critics. Tongue, pastrami, brisket and liverwurst are just some of the classic sandwiches, piled high on rye bread, that Deli King of Clark does so well. Like a handful of other Jersey spots, the Sloppy Joes generate a lot of buzz, but it is the Jewish classics like brisket and whitefish salad that have kept customers returning for years. Their specialty menus for Kiddush, Shiva, Rosh Hashanah and more can be found here.
La Vita Italian Specialties – Sparta, NJ
La Vita offers the feel and accessibility of a classic, Jersey deli, but with the flare of some of the nation’s best restaurants. That’s because between both owners, there are many years of experience in some of NYC and beyond’s greatest Italian restaurants. This means that beyond the deli staples, such as Italian and chicken cutlet subs, you are also met with expertly made pastas, arancini, porchetta di testa (head cheese) and more. Prepared goods such as Roman-style artichokes, guanciale-laced brussels, and house-made foccacia are not to be missed. La Vita Italian Specialties is one of the state’s great delis and whether you’re just stopping in for a sandwich or to bring some hard-to-find salumi home, the one thing you are always guaranteed is great food.
A&S Pork Store – Woodland Park, NJ
This butcher and deli is a staple in the Woodland Park community. Driving past it, the glowing, neon pig in the window lures you in. The salami and cheese hanging from the ceiling, packed deli case and staff will immediately confirm that you’re in for a treat. Since 1948, A&S has served their community fresh sandwiches, prepared goods and more. Italian classics like eggplant parms and capicola subs dot the menu. Truly, there isn’t a wrong option on the menu. Better yet? After over a decade gone, the old ownership is back and with it, many old regulars are eating at A&S again. Proving that a great deli is about more than just the food. A good deli is like family.
Andrea Salumeria – Jersey City, NJ
The freshly-filled cannolis are enough of a reason for Andrea Salumeria to be on your radar. Since 1975, this Jersey City institution has been dishing out artisanally crafted sandwiches, soups and homemade mozzarella. The menu is small, but refined, and this quality over quantity approach reflects immensely in the final product. The imported meats and cut-to-order Pecorino Romano are a reminder of a simpler time for delis, where masters of their craft can truly shine with what they do well. Dried oregano and salumi hangs from the ceilings, and pasta and imported goods line the walls. This salumeria is a souvenir of the past.
Darke Pines – Jersey City, NJ
Darke Pines is a sustainable butcher and boutique grocer that also happens to serve some of the best sandwiches that New Jersey has to offer. You will be hard-pressed to find another spot that is making their own mortadella in house— something that is evidence of immense amounts of skill and dedication. The sandwiches are both creative and delicious – like the ham and cheese, which features smoked ham, homemade pimento cheese and pickles. The folks at Darke Pines do it right, and their expertise in butchery and sustainability is echoed by their artisanal sandwiches and prepared goods.
Flynn’s Delicatessen – Westwood, NJ
This is your classic Jersey deli. Flynn’s has a mix of Italian, Jewish, American and Irish specialties— and they’re all worth trying. Sandwiches like The Veronica feature cracked pepper turkey, salami, provolone, fresh mozzarella and cherry pepper relish on a fresh semolina roll. There are numerous sandwiches to choose from, and even up to 10 different types of bread to have them on. Hot entrees, breakfast specialties, subs and even catered, on-site barbecuing are available, proving Flynn’s has something for every customer. You can order from Flynn’s Delicatessen in Westwood, NJ here.
Violante & Son – Cedar Grove, NJ
This meat market and deli operated out of Belleville, NJ since 1982 before moving to Cedar Grove a few years back. The sandwiches are fresh and well-priced. Classics like sopressata and fresh mozzarella with roasted peppers and balsamic vinegar, or house-roasted beef with cheese, are reminiscent of the sandwiches I grew up on. The staff behind the counter is both knowledgeable and friendly. So, whether it be prepared goods, imported oils or a handcrafted sandwich, Violante & Son is worth the stop.
Mia Famiglia Inc. – Millburn, NJ
Yes, Millburn has another deli that is deserving of your time. This place is the real deal, offering an array of freshly made pastas, homemade cheeses like mozzarella and the harder-to-come-by scamorza, and in-house sopressata hanging from the ceiling. Of course, the imported oils and canned goods are ample— many of which are featured on their legendary sandwiches. The authentic muffuletta, a sandwich served on round sesame bread, filled with olive salad, salami, mortadella and cheese, is unique to find in New Jersey considering its historical roots tracing back to New Orleans, but, like everything else Mia Famiglia does, they do it adequately.
Big Stash’s Subhouse – Kearny, NJ
In Kearny, Stash’s is sort of a local relic. The menu is small, with only a handful of sandwiches to choose from, but that is no problem for the regulars who have been keeping Big Stash’s Subhouse busy for over 40 years. Classic Italian subs with ham, salami and provolone are christened with shredded lettuce, thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and oregano. It is one of those subs that hauls you back to your past. The taste, smell and feel work in tandem to create a sandwich experience that exudes nostalgia in every possible way.
Pastrami Grill Bistro – Garfield, NJ
Pastrami Grill is still in its infancy, but the food they serve is antiquated. That is because much of the staff comes directly from world-renowned Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The pastrami and corned beef are seriously good, and they don’t require a ride on the Path train to get. From indulgent Sloppy Joes to potato knish and matzoh ball soup, Pastrami Grill Bistro has already cemented itself as a Jersey great in just one short year of life. Stop in, or order online here.