“Which one of you is responsible for the pastrami?” I asked. The guys behind the counter looked at each other, as if trying to decide who would jump on this grenade.
“Because I’m about to give my virginity to whoever it was,” I said. Now nobody wanted to be anywhere near the grenade. Just like high school.
I was slow to jump on the Scottie’s Deli wagon for a couple of reasons. It takes a while for a restaurant to find its feet, even one that’s successful, and also I’m always afraid I won’t be able to find a seat. My legs are very weak from years of not trying and the idea of having to stand with a sandwich just makes me sleepy.
There was another reason. A shameful one:
I wasn’t ready to love again.
Alas and alack, the relationship between a man and a deli is a powerful one. A torrid affair of salted meats and various styles of mustard. I’d been hurt before.
The first time I went to Scottie’s was early evening, right before a showing of “The Fifth Element” at The Tower Theatre. Trembling, I ordered a Cubano sandwich.
“Oh,” I whispered. “Oh my.”
Now, I still have to play the field. That’s the job. I can’t be hopelessly devoted to Scottie’s or any other eatery. It’s like in “Pretty Woman,” except instead of not kissing on the lips, I just keep eating at other restaurants constantly.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not soft on Scottie’s. After a preliminary pass through the menu, I’d say I’m well-smitten on this Okie take on the classic New York deli.
Put yourself out there. Try something new. Take that chance and you will be rewarded with sandwiches the likes of which you haven’t had in OKC.
The Cubano ($11 for a regular) is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. The magic of the Cubano comes from being pressed, so the sandwich fillings of sliced pork and ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickled and yellow mustard fuse together into something greater than before. Like an edible Voltron. The sandwich bread has a thin, crisp crust that helps hold in all the juices of the meats and pickles until they are loosed upon your taste buds.
Honestly, this sandwich is so good, they’re not even buds anymore. They’re taste bros. And these taste bros will love you forever.
The meatball ($7.50 for a half) is straightforward and excellent. The meatball is big and tender thanks to a staff that knows better than to overwork the meat. The marinara sauce is rustic, slightly chunky, and would be equally at home on a giant plate of pasta. Provolone cheese melts to form a cover that holds in the other ingredients, but beware: it will likely pull away first.
My only request next time will be to ask for a side of more sauce for dipping. I want to soak the bread in it before every bite.
The same is true for the beef dip ($11 for a regular), but that’s kind of the point of it.
Sometimes called a French dip or an au jus sandwich, this is a simple-but-perfect dish that shows off the care Scottie’s Deli puts into its ingredients. Thin-sliced roast beef is cooked medium-rare and then submerged in beefy, salty au jus that soaks in and finishes it out. The roast beef is sliced thin enough to form layers that can trap the au jus and then covered in melted provolone. Take a bite without the au jus and you’ll be happy.
Take a bite with the au jus and you’ll be in sandwich ecstasy.
I have been searching for a long, long time for a beef dip this good. Scottie’s won my heart with this one. It takes extra effort to order anything else at this point.
There’s no way I’m going to recommend you go to Scottie’s without getting a sandwich, but if you’re looking for something great on the side, you need to try the Basque garlic tomato soup ($4 cup, $7 bowl).
It is, in my opinion, a garlic soup with a touch of tomato. And if that doesn’t sound completely amazing to you, then I’d stop trusting anything else I say from here on out.
Still with me? Good. Let’s try to physically hurt you with a sandwich.
The Big John ($11) is an Italian meat endurance test that’s so big, I couldn’t even fit half of it in a to-go container.
“To-go container? You’ve changed, Greg.”
SHUT UP. You weren’t there, man. You don’t know what I saw. This sandwich is piled high with capicola, mortadella, salami, cotto, provolone, lettuce, onion, tomato and pepperoncini before being doused with basil vinaigrette. I seriously wondered if I would need to unhinge my jaw to get a solid bite on this.
It’s wonderful, by the way. And surgery is scheduled for early next week.
I like T’s grilled cheese ($7). Horseradish havarti, Dijon mustard and tomato make a great sandwich. Grilled, you get some of that cheese dripping out the side, hitting the griddle and sizzling into that most decadent treat: fried cheese.
But you’ll forgive me if I am eager to get right to the main event. Pastrami on rye ($7.50 for a half, $18 for a NY. You probably want the NY.) is exactly what it says it is.
Rye bread: toasted. Whole grain mustard. House-made shaved, smoked, perfected pastrami. Peppery and smoky and fatty and every bite was heavenly.
I love this kind of rye. It’s tasty, slightly assertive, but not overwhelming you with caraway flavor. It’s also tender and crunchy enough to give way as you pull apart the pastrami with your teeth.
Get ready for the twin impulses to scarf this down as fast as you can and to savor each bite so that it never ends.
I’m ready for love, Scottie’s. Take me. Take me now. Take me to Scottie’s for another sandwich.