H.P. Schmaltz Deli & Co. – Naperville, IL

“Uhm, The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.”

I actually have a black and white cookie from Schmaltz’ Deli sitting here taunting me. I’m trying to behave, I bought it for Katie after all; but based on how delicious everything else was, I’m finding it quite hard to muster up any willpower whatsoever.

I haven’t been this pleasantly surprised, or disturbingly full, with a meal in ages, but this New York-ish deli in Naperville (and now Downer’s Grove) has instantly shot up to join few others on my “essential” list.

I first heard about H.P. Schmaltz Deli & Co. a few weeks back when the chefs were on WGN Noon News here in Chicago. They were discussing latkes which will always capture my undivided attention. It wasn’t long before I knew long that I had to go. Katie and I have been trying to make up there every since, but it wasn’t until today when I a co-worker and I decided to order lunch for pick up that I got to give the food a go.

Seriously, put down what you’re doing and go to H.P. Schmaltz Deli & Co. now. You’ll thank me later. I didn’t have one miss in the food I ate today, which ranged from sesame noodle salad, to knishes, to their one vegetarian sandwich on the menu.

As Jen, my co-worker, put it, “This sandwich is going to make me cry.” But I’ll let her review her Gramercy Park, the deli’s Hot Pastrami on Rye with Spicy Brown Mustard.

The first thing that stands out about this pastrami on rye with mustard (AKA the Perfect Sandwich) is the bread. It’s a light, fluffy marble rye. This is in almost direct contrast to most of the breads you find them building these sandwiches on in NYC. They stack ‘em high on the east coast and tend to rely on less fibrous bread to support all of the meat. (tasty, tasty meat.) But I really like this soft bread. First of all, it absorbs some of the mustard, which is spicy. I mean seriously, not kiddin’ around with you, spicy. It also sports a nice, think crust that has a smattering of seeds but not enough to get stuck in your teeth.

In the grand NY Jewish Deli tradition, Schmaltz’s makes a pretty stacked sandwich themselves. The pastrami is sliced thin which some people don’t like but I enjoy. While this sandwich may not be as tall as some of its NYC brethren it still has the same amount of pastrami on it. The thinner slices, and the softer bread, make it a lot easier to dig into this sammy without loosing most of the insides onto your plate as well. And, while the mustard is, sometimes, a little overwhelming the delicious fatty, usami of the pastrami shines through on every bite.

Proof positive it’s a good sandwich? I couldn’t eat it all in just one sitting. Hooray leftovers!

She’s from the New York area, so it’s hard not to trust her that this place stacks up to the NY delis she’s been trying to replace here in Chicago. Plus, she uses words like usami as part of everyday speech. She’s S-M-R-T.

Jen was smart, limiting herself to a sandwich and a knishe. I, however, needed to try some of everything. So, I found myself with the noodle salad, 3 latkes, 2 knishes and one very large West Village sandwich, which came with some Dirty New Orleans stlyle jalapeno chips.

The size of the sandwiches are amazing, but I was shocked…SHOCKED…by the size of the latkes. For 89 cents per, I was treated to latkes that are easily 6 inches round, if not larger. They’re light, fluffy, blended and fried in enough grease that my plate was shimmering under the light, and my arteries were wondering where the hell the healthy food went. My only regret is that I didn’t have any sour cream to go with them.

The sesame noodle salad was like a less spicy version of a spicy peanut noodle salad. The cavatappi noodles were perfectly al dente with a generous amount of dressing covering every last noodle in the bowl.

This is how good the sandwich was. I hate broccoli. Or I should say broccoli hates me. But that didn’t stop me from tackling the West Village. Described as a “Fresh Vegetable sandwich in a low-carb wrap with Cheddar and Swiss cheese and a splash of our Italian dressing,” it tastes even better when you swap out the dressing for the spicy brown mustard. Jen wasn’t lying about that mustard either. On at least two occasions it nearly made me cry, the spice hit me just right. Stuffed with fresh artichoke, broccoli, lettuce, spinach and red onion, the sandwich is easily two meals (which it was for me).

I ended on the knish, which thanks to research online I was convinced was filled with meat. But after talking to the guy behind the counter, I learned it’s more like a pastry wrapped shepherd’s pie. Mashed potatoes wrapped in pastry and fried? Yes please. I gave the spinach knish a try for dinner, and those could easily make a meal unto themselves as well. Needing only a little salt, the knish was easy to reheat. The pastry held up to the microwave incredibly well, not getting too softy or too stiff. The filling was hearty and delicious, the perfect winter food.

Meat lovers will undoubtedly get more out of H.P. Schmaltz Deli & Co. than I did. Their menu is a smorgasboard of meats. Meatballs are listed under tongue; which fills the same sandwich as liver. I find that truly disgusting, but I’m obviously not the main market a delicatessen is going for. And it IS a full delicatessen, more than happy to fill that need you have for a 1/2 pound of salami.

I love this place. It seriously has become one of my favorite comfort food places, and I’ve only been there once. I can’t wait to bring Katie so she can try it for herself. But until then, I still have a latke and an entire mushroom knishe waiting here for her. Maybe. If they survive that long. I make no promises. To you. Or her.

1512 North Naper Boulevard
Naperville, IL 60563

1416 Butterfield Rd
Downers Grove, IL 60515

This entry was posted in lunch, Naperville, restaurants, review, suburbs. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to H.P. Schmaltz Deli & Co. – Naperville, IL

  1. Sm says:

    I was soooo disappointed . I drove all the way from wisc to try food. I had seen it on Chicagos Best. This place On a Saturday was Closed @400pm.
    They were still there cleaning up, wouldnt even sell a traveler a pre_made sandwich. I dont think ill be back
    To give then another chance!!

  2. westsuburbanmom says:

    Hey Mike. I’ve been searching all over for a direct email to you with no luck! I’d love to link to this in our newsetter and website. Drop me a note if you can.

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