It’s easy to forget that despite our absensce, Middletown’s ever-growing Main Street and all of the restaurants that surround it continue to change and develop. In this column, we’ll fill you in on all the deliciousness you’ve missed this summer and should look forward to for the fall!
I’m a notoriously picky eater, so when I was preparing for my assignment at Michael’s Deli, I was a little hesitant about how complimentary a review I could give of a deli. Despite my pre-conceived ideas, the moment my friend Taylor and I walked in, we were pleasantly surprised by the clean, spacious, and comfortable atmosphere that lay before us “It’s almost like we’re in a living room,” she said.
The moment we walked in, owner and head chef Chris Arena presented us with some of his famed oatmeal cranberry cookies. The large, delicious cookies had crisp outsides that gave way to delicately soft cores, and acted as a great segue into our chat about Michael’s Deli. A man of few words, Chris lets his food do the talking, and it says more than enough. We got to try the Cuban and Paul Addario sandwiches. Both were packed with flavorful, thick cuts of meat and expertly paired breads. If you think that the prices are a bit jarring, I would implore you to look at any sandwich on the menu as an investment in two meals, because neither of us had even come close to finishing the sandwiches and we were incredibly full. One of the deli’s biggest strengths is the quality of its ingredients. Every element of our meal looked and tasted exceedingly fresh.
My favorite dish was the Paul Addario, a combination of dry-aged ribeye and provolone cheese. Mine also contained caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms which were welcome but not vital additions as the sandwich was already good as it was. The meat and bread worked as tremendous compliments to one another. Sandwiches aren’t my favorite food usually because I don’t like bread getting in the way of my meat experience but that wasn’t the case here because the bread used only enhanced the flavor and texture of everything inside. With regard to the size, the Addario is the perfect example of a two-meal deal. My leftovers provided a generous dinner, which was not in the least bit soggy when I ate it a few hours later.
My interview with Chris touched on various topics, one of the most interesting of which was his shock at a simple and highly popular customer favorite: “grilled cheese…..I’ve been surprised at the amount of customers who love grilled cheeses. Especially considering the amount of time that it takes to make one; but they have been one my best sellers,” he told us. We also talked about how the Middletown/Wesleyan communities had impacted his menu. “Middletown has a lot of health-conscious people so it’s made me think more about the vegetarian options that I have on the menu.” As for new items, Chris announced to us that in the coming weeks, the deli will begin selling cupcakes from NORA Cupcake Company, in addition to their own-made cookies and other desserts.
Their attention to quality and fine cooking and baking skills make it one of the best spots in Middletown, not only for Lunch, but for any time of day. I was so impressed with my experience that a week after our interview, I went back to get a Pastrami on rye with chipotle mayo. Chris had suggested that I try their rye bread, and all I can say is, always trust the owner. Michael’s is worth the hype.
- Christian ’15
83 Broad Street Middletown, CT 0645