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August, 2009, Page 207
Photos by Jake Johnson
Homemade ice cream
Queen Creek gets a rep as being in the boondocks, but The Deli’s use of delicious local produce puts it on the Valley’s culinary map.
If you were opening a restaurant serving local ingredients and dishes made from scratch, wouldn’t it make sense to court local farms and other top-quality food purveyors?
Blake Mastyk did just that in June 2008, starting The Deli in Queen Creek just a peach stone’s throw away from Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek Olive Mill, The Pork Shop and a number of vegetable growers.
This dining gem far outshines its humble name. Forget flabby processed lunchmeats. Top round, turkey breast and organic chicken are roasted and sliced in-house for exquisite salads and sandwiches. As much produce as possible is from Arizona, meaning tomato soup tastes like fresh tomatoes and vegetables are shining stars rather than afterthoughts.
The cute, upscale-country interior – complete with butcher paper on the tables and a wall of wine racks – reminds me of a roadside stop in Sonoma. To say it’s family run is an understatement. Mastyk’s wife, Nicole, is a sommelier, pastry chef and server. Mastyk’s parents, Barry and Brenda, and brother Barry Jr. moved from the family’s home state of New Jersey to pitch in, too.
The hands-down favorite on all my visits was the warm roast beef sandwich ($9) kissed with horseradish and dolled up with caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers and pepper jack cheese on a Simply Bread baguette. I was also wild about mouth-watering, juicy turkey on rye with Swiss and sweet-as-could-be homemade sauerkraut ($8.50).
Soups ($4 cup, $5.50 bowl) are pure bliss, especially tomato with crisp celery bits and delicate French onion with a hint of red wine. Prosciutto-wrapped balls of melted house-made mozzarella ($4.50) are indeed “little bites of heaven” as Nicole promises.
Roast beef sandwich with mushroom soup
Dinner specials change weekly. Flaky, wild-caught orange roughy with herb butter sauce ($18) was worthy of a white-tablecloth seafood establishment, while tender beef tips ($17) in creamy stroganoff sauce over egg noodles begged for more pepper and paprika. Skip the tough-crust pizzas with uninspired sauce.
I could’ve eaten a bucket of any of the homemade ice creams ($2 per scoop), but rich chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream ($4.50) and moist carrot cake ($4.50) were knockouts, too.
: 18914 E. San Tan Blvd., Queen Creek
: 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday
: tomato or French onion soup ($4 cup, $5.50 bowl); prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella balls ($4.50); roast beef sandwich ($9); turkey sandwich with homemade sauerkraut ($8.50); orange roughy with herb butter sauce ($18); homemade ice cream (any kind, $2 per scoop)
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