Szmidt’s Old World Deli’s “Joe”

An unbelievable, truly "old-world" sandwich.

Sometimes you find a place and you think, “These people are really doing it the right way.” That’s the way I felt when I walked into Szmidt’s Old World Deli the other day for lunch. After a recommendation from a Facebook friend (we’ll call him Tater), I decided to venture to see what was so dang “Old World” about this deli.

But when they call it an old world deli, they’re not messing around: it’s old school food. The bread is homemade. All meats are home-brined (if applicable) and, therefore, homemade. They churn out homemade pierogies like it’s their job. And the whole place is slightly larger than my living room.

Since their calling cards are their homemade pastrami AND corned beef, I thought, “What the heck, I’ll have the sandwich that features both.” So I ordered the “Joe,” made of “homemade corned beef, homemade pastrami, swiss cheese, deli mustard, on grilled homemade deli rye.” In case you’re keeping score at home, that’s 60% homemade ingredients. Yeah, “old world” wasn’t lying. In fact, I don’t think “old world” is generous enough. They ought to call it Szmidt’s I Made it in My Oven An Hour Ago Deli.

The "old world" locale for goodness between bread.

But anyway, the sandwich was unfathomably delicious. Let’s begin with the filler: the pastrami and corned beef meld into one meaty existence that gives off this homee-brined salty deliciousness that’s only found in the highest quality of meats: it’s not overly salty, it just tastes the way it should be. Perfectly prepared, there’s a little chew and a little tenderness in each bite, making sure there’s plenty of texture on this ‘wich.

The swiss gives off subtle hints, but really, it’s the fifth out of five ingredients in this sandwich. Then there’s the deli mustard. The mustard has a perfect little spicy kick that gives some tang to the otherwise salty sandwich. A little switch in the direction of the ‘wich is a good idea; otherwise, I could see the salty quotient of the rest of the filler becoming overpowering. The mustard provides the perfect cut.

And finally we reach the grilled homemade rye. I’ll be perfectly honest with you: if I were ever served this bread as dessert, I’d be perfectly happy. In fact, I’d more than happy, I’d be ecstatic. It’s better than anything you’ll find for purchase in a store, a bakery, etc. The consistency shows that it’s homemade in that each slice isn’t exactly all the way held together, but the grill on the outside makes sure that the bread avoids being crumbly. And, being rye, it has the little bite that gives the bread even more character (as if it needed any more).

As I was eating this sandwich, I was reminded of something I saw on TV a week or so ago. I was watching The Next Food Network Star, an American Idol-style reality show featuring aspiring chefs instead of singers. In one episode, a contestant was being critiqued and was told that his dish didn’t work well as separate entities. The contestant said that he had prepared it so that every flavor would be showcased in what they called “the perfect bite.” Well, as I continued to eat, I realized this is a sandwich that doesn’t need “the perfect bite.” The meats taste delicious by themselves (believe me, I sampled); the bread, as I mentioned before, could be a meal by itself; and the mustard, spread on said bread, is fantastic without any meats to compliment. It was truly a spectacular sandwich, and I’ll certainly be frequenting Szmidt’s in the future to tap into my “old world” taste buds once again.

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