What a find in Stockton, a small river town in Hunterdon County between Lambertville and Frenchtown. The Borscht Belt Delicatessen is “a love letter to the Jewish deli” from Chef Nick Liberato, who’s appeared on Top Chef and Bar Rescue, and who also co-created and stars in Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge.
After growing up in PA and making it as a restaurateur and celebrity chef, Liberato launched The Borscht Belt with fellow serial entrepreneurs Steve Lau and Mike Dalewitz earlier this summer. There’s too much to take in (and/or eat) in one sitting, so make plans to go several times.
There’s baked goods and breads: bialy, bagels, challah, babka. There’s spreads and shmears, including plenty of cured fish options (whitefish, sable, salmon, etc.), and fish sandwiches (like The Raleigh, with tuna, jalapeno, chili sambal and fried onions on toasted rye). There’s chicken salad, chopped liver, corned beef, pastrami and salami. Sandwiches that bring shmear, meat, fish and veggies together in harmony. Latkes, fries, burgers, soups, caviar, breakfast sandwiches, grocery items, egg creams, Abita root beer… the list goes on and on.
So, faced with an abundance of options, we started with the basics: a pastrami reuben on marble rye with a half-sour pickle. You’ll spend $20 on it, but it’s a whopping sandwich and it’s about as good a rendition of the classic as you can ask for. The pastrami is thick-cut; flavorful bark on the outside, salty and savory on the inside, with wonderful fat on each slice. Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, sauerkraut—time-tested play partners for the vibrant pastrami. You’ll be satisfied. Get it. And then get something else, and then something else.