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Posted January 26, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Woodstock eatery brings traditional deli fare to area

Chris Circolo holds a pastrami sandwich
Chris Circolo holds a pastrami sandwich at his New York Deli in Woodstock. Circolo buys his meat, bread and pickles from New York and New Jersey. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Circolo spins pizza dough
Circolo spins pizza dough in his restaurant. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Circolo's homemade salads
A sampling of Circolo’s homemade salads, including cucumber, macaroni and cole slaw, is shown. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Circolo assembles one of his overstuffed pastrami sandwiches
Chris Circolo assembles one of his overstuffed pastrami sandwiches at his NY Deli in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Circolo creates a pizza
Chris Circolo creates a pizza inside his NY Deli in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Circolo pulls a fresh baked pizza
Circolo pulls a freshly baked pizza out of the oven. Rich Cooley/Daily

Chris Circolo pulls a pizza out of the oven
Chris Circolo pulls a fresh baked thin crust pizza out of the oven at the NY Deli restaurant in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Josette Keelor-jkeelor@nvdaily.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.
The recent Long Island transplant remembers asking Circolo, "Are you from New York for real?"

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!"
Customers will find prices reasonable with sandwich costs ranging from $5.50 to $8.25. Sandwiches come with kettle chips, which Circolo indicates are thicker and more flavorful than other potato chips.

"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."

If you go
• New York Deli is at 121 S. Main St. in Woodstock.
• Hours are Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• For more information, call 459-1693.


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