Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Rich and famous

Posted on Tue, Nov 16, 1999 at 4:00 AM

Celebrity Delly bears not even a passing resemblance to a big-city delicatessen; there's no hustle and bustle, no rough edges, no rudeness behind the counter. Planted in a Best Western hotel on the corner of West Colonial Drive and Tampa Avenue, the restaurant is relatively nondescript in a vinyl-upholstered, Formica-table-topped kind of way.

For many fans on the west side of town, lunch just wouldn't be lunch without a fix of triple-stacked sandwiches, piled high with top-shelf meats and served with kraut, pickles, slaw, steak fries and all the trimmings. Some of them have followed the restaurant for more than 10 years as it hopscotched from Lee Road to Altamonte Springs to its current location.

True to its name, the restaurant is filled with portraits of famous people, from the legendary ("Prince" and "Daffy Duck") to neo-celebs such as "Mr. T." The sandwiches are named accordingly, from the "Bogie Burger" to "The Duke" roast-beef sandwich. Extremely hungry is an excellent state to be when you sit down to dine – you will not leave that way, as the sandwiches are famously oversized.

There was a time when richly spiced cold cuts, condiments and pickled things were considered delicacies, or "delicatessen," as they say in Germany. That has changed somewhat, now that bagel shops are on every main thoroughfare and Reubens are available just about everywhere but Burger King. Still, there are standbys that haven't entered our culinary consciousness, though. A chopped-liver sandwich on pumpernickel, washed down with an egg-cream soda? A fried potato pancake with applesauce and sour cream? You'll find them here.

There are dozens of you-pick, they-stack sandwiches built with ham, turkey, knockwurst, salami, bologna, rare roast beef, liverwurst, chicken and tuna salad, and more. The "Mighty Milty" ($5.75) is as good a choice as any, featuring about a half pound of hot, juicy pastrami, piled high, topped with melted provolone cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing on fresh rye bread. The meats were lean, evenly spiced and just salty enough to snap tastebuds to attention, and the bread was at its peak. Another good bet is "The Brando" ($5.95), created from thin-sliced roast beef and turkey, layered with Swiss cheese, onions and horseradish.

Side items are a must, particularly the chunky cole slaw ($1.30) that emphasizes red cabbage, and a cup of matzo-ball soup ($2.25) that is so flavorful it actually makes chicken soup an exciting option for lunch. Steak fries are worth the extra expense, too; it was thoroughly soft and fluffy inside, crisp outside. A half order will more than suffice ($1.25), unless that's all you're eating. The only let down was the leaden New York cheesecake ($2.25).

Lunch-only Celebrity Delly closes at 2:30 p.m. weekdays, but breakfast is served all week long, with hot-off-the-griddle combinations of eggs, omelets, corned-beef hash, pancakes and French toast.


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