Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, May 22, 2003
Saloui’s Stage Deli and Bar
Greek salad $4.95
Corned beef, chopped liver,
onion sandwich $7.25
Turkey, egg salad, tomato
sandwich $6.95
Nova lox with cream cheese $9.75
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
On Broadway

Big, juicy sandwiches make Saloui’s Stage Deli and Bar a blockbuster.

By JIMMY FOWLER

Saloui’s Stage Deli and Bar

517 University Dr, FW. 817-877-9947. Mon-Thurs & Sun 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm (full bar service is 11am-2am daily). All major cards accepted.

he new restaurant-bar-delicatessen Saloui’s describes itself as a stage deli, which is not to be confused with the Stage Deli, the chain that exports the whole knee-high-sandwich-named-after-a-celebrity concept from New York. There, you can get predictable delicacies like the “Muhammad Ali” and the “Pete Rose,” but, personally, I’m more intrigued by the “Max Von Sydow.” (Is it possible to capture the essence of Ingmar Bergman’s favorite character actor between two slices of pumpernickel, and, if so, is it desirable?)

As a matter of fact, Saloui’s owner Louie Jacobini hails from New York, and, on the afternoon my guest and I visited, the brick walls were hung with framed photos of Charlton Heston in his Moses getup, Shirley Temple, and Joan Crawford, among many other pics. So far, nobody famous is available to be eaten on the diverse and scrumptious menu, which is as close to representing an immigrant-neighborhood, Jewish-Italian deli as you’re going to get pretty much anywhere in Fort Worth. I am curious, though: Did Jacobini realize when he opened his establishment on University Drive that his eatery was positioned just a short skip from Stage West, the area’s best theater, and TCU’s celebrated theater arts department? He didn’t return phone calls by press time to confirm. But the dark brick-and-wood-paneled grotto that is Saloui’s screams “Regular Hangout!” I predict this place will soon be swarming with actors, directors, designers, techies, theater students, and the people who love them. The prosciutto and corned beef will lure them; the full-service bar will trap them.

My dining companion and I had a superior if belt-straining lunch adventure — between the two of us, we could eat only about half of each item we ordered. We chose the Greek Salad to begin — an oval platter of iceberg lettuce, tomato, hard-boiled egg whites, pitted Greek olives, and feta. Ever since I learned that iceberg lettuce became popular not through flavor but through a refusal to biodegrade during long hauls, these “greens” have become the object of one of my few culinary prejudices. But the lettuce was chopped into smallish squares (thank God, no cores) to match the topping, and with a cup of olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic dressing on the side the whole thing mixed perfectly. Quantity, texture, and taste.

All the elaborations on the Earl of Sandwich’s spontaneous snack invention are here: hot and cold heroes, triple- and four-deckers, and specialties. All are served with long, cold, quarter-slices of dill pickle that’re positively plump. Saloui’s does not bake its own bread, but we were pleased with the plush-chewy Jewish rye, richly bitter pumpernickel, Italian, and something called white egg bread (it has the spongy look and feel of angel food cake without the sweetness). We were even happier with the thick layers of finely sliced deli meats pressed together so tightly they sweated juice. A big fat piece of heaven was the chunky egg salad — prepared without the redundancy of too much mayo — spread thickly atop fresh tomato and turkey slices that had been punishingly packed to way more than an inch in height. One point of contention: Purists might haggle over Saloui’s Corned Beef, Chopped Liver, and Onion. The chopped liver prepared for Jewish celebrations is literally chopped and sautéed with eggs, and it often comes from calves. Here, it’s essentially a chicken liver cold cut, but the love-it-or-hate-it regal gaminess remains.

I ordered Nova lox with cream cheese on rye bread rather than on bagel halves, since I know the taste of salmon, capers, and that lovely round boiled bread from countless consumptions. I got a little ahead of myself. Nova lox are thickly cut, cold-smoked, brine-cured salmon that are less salty than the pink salmon sheets most deli fans are familiar with. A warning to those who enjoy salmon because it tastes less fishy than other fish — Nova lox’s flavor is more of the ocean than of some wussy salmon farm.

Delicatessen foods have such complex ethnic, cultural, and familial histories that it’s damn near impossible to separate the “authentic” from the “inauthentic,” unless you’re talking Oscar Mayer baloney between two slices of Mrs. Baird’s white. I’ve eaten at New York delis in my handful of visits to that city. They may have a hurried urban streetcorner charm, but, frankly, Saloui’s bests a lot of them — especially in the freshness of their vegetables and garnishes. In the quality of both ingredients and preparation, owner Louie Jacobini and his staff are clearly trying to make an impression. They should prove themselves to be more than just chopped liver once the faithful start to arrive.


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