You never know the people you’ll meet when volunteering with a local charity, and in my case, my charity of choice is The Junior League of Sarasota. I’ve been a volunteer with the League for over 5 years, and have come to love the girls I’ve met, and more importantly, being a part of the great work they do in Sarasota.
Which brings this blog to the subject of Nellie’s Deli! In 2010 the League’s Merry Marketplace Committee was looking for a hip menu for their Mistletoe Mingle preview party, and fortunately my friend Janet Feliciano lead us to Nellie’s Deli. They catered the event and the guests absolutely raved about both the food and the presentation. It was a pleasant surprise to me! I’d always thought of Nellie’s a great lunch place. I had not idea there were artists in the kitchen! Cool!
Mart and I used to frequent Nellie’s previous location at Beneva and Webber, but hadn’t taken the opportunity to grab a bite at their new location on the southwest corner of Beneva and Fruitville Road. Two words for that decision. Duh-umb!
I confess that I’ve enjoyed more than my fair share of good delis. I used to work downtown Miami on Brickell Avenue, home to a number of world-class deli’s heralding from Manhattan and Brooklyn. I think Nellie’s Deli could stand up next to most every one of them.
I knew Mart was in trouble when we walked in the door for lunch. He said he wasn’t that hungry, but we weren’t at the counter more than a few minutes before a server walked past with an order of Nellie’s ham and lentil soup. He was a goner once he caught a whiff of the aroma alone.
I knew right away that I wanted a deli classic, the Reuben on rye, while Mart followed suit with his favorite deli classic, the liverwurst on pumpernickel. Nellie’s delivered our order on target with everything we’d have expected, right down to the sandwiches served in a basket with a crisp dill pickle spear and cellophane tipped toothpicks. My Reuben was perfect. The rye was toasted and crunchy, the Swiss cheese hot and oozy, the 1000 Island sauce tasted homemade. Mart’s liverwurst? Renamed it Liverbest!
I could go on and on about the food, or the number of customers dressed in business atire who obviously made the jaunt from downtown (like we did) but then I wouldn’t have time to talk about Nellie’s Market, located next to the dining room.
Imagine. We’d just had a great lunch, were feeling fat and happy, but we still wanted to look at Nellie’s food. Nellie’s Market would be a great choice for those of you who eat lunch on the run, or need to pick up something yummy for dinner. There’s a little bit of everything here, from pre-packaged food from Nellie’s menu, to sweets, deli meats, cheese,vegetables, and even a decent wine display. I love how the wine isle showcases wine in bank safe deposit boxes, while Mart was charmed by the veggie-family living in the produce section.
I couldn’t help but notice the steady stream of customers in and out of the Market, the constant table turnover in the dining room and the number of people ordering take out. Take into account that Nellie’s is also known for their catering, and I’m guessing this place is a local gold mine.
Knowing how hard they worked for the Junior League back in 2010, and the lunch we enjoyed that day, it’s no wonder Nellie’s Deli is a success. Who says life isn’t fair?