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Posted January 26, 2011 | Leave a comment
Woodstock eatery brings traditional deli fare to area
By Josette Keeloremail@example.com
WOODSTOCK-Chris Circolo is serving up some Big Apple style in his Woodstock deli, and he hopes customers will taste the difference.
New York Deli opened in early November, but already it attracts people either looking for what they remember of New York fare or who simply long for something unique.
Donna Calabrese, of Edinburg, stopped by two weeks ago, curious about the deli's claims.
Well, no, he isn't. His passion for New York food comes from his childhood in Trenton, N.J., but, for all he knows of the city's cuisine, he might as well be from New York.
"That's why we came back this way," she said.
Judging by Calabrese's first impressions, and her return to the deli a week later to try some more items on the menu, Circolo is off to a good start.
"The pizza was awesome," she told him.
Circolo, 48, has long dreamed of opening a deli, and he turned his childhood passion into a career when he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
"I've been cooking with a license and a degree for 23 years," he said, but he was cooking long before that, having forged his future with food from his Italian family.
"I worked in my first deli at 9," he said. He washed dishes, but every now and then he was allowed to clean the meat slicer.
"I've always wanted to open a deli, and I had an opportunity here," he said. "Figured I'd give it a try, since there aren't any other delis. ... Not like this."
Besides a full menu of sandwiches and salads, he also serves pizza, mainly because the restaurant that had the space before him was a pizza place. The ovens were already there, so he uses them, and in them he makes real New York-style pizza.
Still his main interest is in the deli meat and homemade sides.
"I really want people to know it's a deli, it's not a pizza shop," he said.
His enjoyment of making food for others stems from his family's traditions.
"As a boy, Italian family, when guests came over to the house, we fed them. That's what we did," he said.
"I always liked cooking, and this is what I like to do," he said.
"I'm back here. I'm a good mother, for my business," he said. "The worst possible thing they [customers] could tell me is 'That was OK.'"
Instead he wants them to tell him the food is awesome, and he watches them to witness that moment of realization cross their faces when they discover that the food is better than they expected.
"Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see the look on someone's face when they eat something I make," he said. "I take the extra time, 'cause I can't wait, the anticipation is killing me."
Traditional menu items customers will recognize are pastrami and corned beef -- the same as they'll find at Yankee Stadium, Circolo said -- and sausage with sweet pork fennel. The Jersey Pork Roll comes on bread he buys in Trenton.
And the New York Cheese Steak Hoagie? According to the menu, "You got to try it once!"
"The menu is small but it gives me a lot of quality control," he said. He makes most of the food himself, such as the fruit salad, the mushroom olive salad, the macaroni salad and the cole slaw.
The chicken salad is his famous secret recipe, the menu assures readers, and "is sure to amaze."
"All my soups are homemade. I don't do anything but homemade," he said, and on a recent weekday afternoon the options were Italian Chicken Noodle Soup, with a hint of cheese, and Italian Wedding Soup, with traditional tiny meatballs.
"All the salads I make, all of them," he said. "I sell salads and lunch meat by the pound."
Options for deli meats are boiled ham, bologna, capicolla, Genoa salami, roast beef, turkey, corned beef, imported capicolla, imported proscuitto, pastrami, pepperoni and pepper ham.
"All of our breads are thick breads," he said. "They're also New York breads."
Every day from 3 p.m. until close, everything, from drinks to food, is "buy two get one free," he said.
New York Deli also does delivery and, in the near future, will offer a dinner menu, which could offer almost anything, from stuffed shells to steak.
The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
One of Circolo's favorite parts of running the deli is the down-to-earth atmosphere.
"The place oozes who I am through the food," he said. "You're not gonna forget me, if I get to talking to you."
His passion is for food, but he also loves talking with his customers, and he prides himself on his service.
"You're not a number," he said, and he believes that customers will notice the difference.
"I just want people to know that we're here for them and we take them seriously," he said. "If you make someone's stomach happy, they'll remember you."
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