Ben's Kosher Delicatessen in Woodbury
7971 Jericho Tpke. Woodbury, NY 516-496-4236
Celebrating our 40th anniversary as Long Island's best delicatessen restaurant. Dine in casual comfort. We cure our own corned beef. Our chicken soup cures everthing else!
Ben's opened its first location in Baldwin in 1972. While that location has since closed there are five other full-serve locations besides Woodbury -- one in Carle Place, Greenvale, Woodbury, Bayside, Manhattan and Boca Raton, FL.
First, you get a bowl of pickles - crunchy emerald green half-sours and dark, mouth-puckering sours. There's a dish of coleslaw too. By the time you lumber out the door, you'll probably feel as overstuffed as a corned beef on rye. But you'll be smiling.
Don't expect crabby waiters from the old school of kosher delis; like the other Ben's restaurants (Greenvale, Carle Place, Jericho and Baldwin), the staff at Woodbury is diverse and cheerful, the decor bright and New York City nostalgia-themed.
Chicken matzoh ball soup here too often lacks oomph, the ethereally light matzoh balls utterly bland. The matzoh ball soup both at the Greenvale and Carle Place branches are consistently better. Mushroom barley soup can be over-salted and gluey.
But an appetizer of stuffed derma blanketed with a rich brown gravy is comforting and right. Stuffed cabbage, properly sweet and sour, is good and sturdy, and house-made gefilte fish can make you forget fish from a jar. Potato knishes are divine.
Face it; a hot pastrami sandwich really is why you've come.It's neither too lean nor too fatty, with a great peppery edge. Corned beef, too, is first-rate. No complaints about a hearty combination brisket and smoked turkey sandwich. Be sure, though, to ask for your tongue sandwich to be served slightly warm.
Nothing beats the superb roast chicken (yes, kosher chickens really do have more flavor than most), served with elementally good mashed potatoes and bright steamed broccoli. Fresh-cut French fries, by the way, are topnotch.
For dessert, keep in mind that no dairy products are allowed by the laws of kashruth. Chocolate layer cake is a bit dry, apple strudel decent. If they're offering something called "autumn flower" cake, you'll be surprised at how rich, fudgy, and moist it is.
Most likely, though, you won't have room for dessert. Given the size of the portions, you'll probably exit with a doggie bag. Be happy, for leftover deli, you'll discover, is its own kind of mitzvah. --Joan Reminick