If you’re traveling the I-5/405 corridor to Irvine and Los Angeles and get a craving for a really good pastrami on rye, find your way to Tommy Pastrami New York Delicatessen, just off Bake Parkway near the El Toro merge. This new franchise with three stores and more on the way serves overstuffed, high quality sandwiches of the type you’d find at top New York or Los Angeles delis that were noted last September in Los Angeles magazine. Unfortunately, there isn’t a deli in San Diego (DZ Akins and others pale by comparison) that holds a corned beef sandwich to those LA institutions. The new comer, Tommy Pastrami, even though their outlets don’t have table service, could certainly be added to the magazine’s list.
Fat sandwiches at Tommy Pastrami come in three sizes: 4-ounce ($4.95) 6-ounce ($6.95) a nd 8-ounce ($8.95). Whether it’s melt-in-your- mouth pastrami or thinly sliced, slightly marbled and tender corned beef or tuna with finely chopped celery and just enough mayo not to intrude on the tuna, or chopped liver with bits of hardboiled egg that is light not heavy, the top quality shows in the food. The half- inch plus slices of crunchy-crusted corn rye bread, an integral part of a great deli sandwich, make the trip worthwhile. Thick fries, a zippy homemade chili, salads, chicken soup, even matzo balls, cheesecake and rugala are among other treats on the menu.
Tommy Pastrami knows the business and they’ve hired some seasoned deli guys. In chatting with Howard, who took my order, I learned his dad started Marv’s (long since sold), one of the top ten listed in LA magazine. Yes, it’s worth the trouble to detour off the freeway for a pastrami (or any sandwich) on rye. At the Commons, 8685 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, (949)753-7445, Closed Sunday.