Roscoe's Famous Deli Restaurant Review

Article Type: DeliRestaurant Review
Submitted by: warren -- Sun, 2005-04-24 14:16
Roscoe's Famous Deli is brought to you by the owners of Hero's Bar and Grill, which was one of the only restaurants in Downtown Fullerton during its dark pawn-shop-days, and a favorite of mine. Roscoe's has been a long time coming, being developed for more than two years before opening just recently. Because of this, and because Jerry's Famous Deli and New York's (and Las Vegas') Stage Deli are both favorites of mine, I had very high hopes for Roscoe's. Perhaps too high.

Perhaps the the problem is that when I think "Deli," I'm thinking about what is popularly known as a "Jewish Deli." Such a Deli has a huge menu with at least 100 items, if not three times this. Of course there's cold sandwiches with freshly sliced deli meat (aka "cold cuts," where I grew up) on fresh bread, but there's also breakfast dishes, hot open-faced sandwiches, bagels with lox and cream cheese, matzah-ball soup, and so forth. There may even be full dinners with steak, fish, burgers, or even pizza.

And compared to this, Roscoe's menu comes up at little short. The menu has exactly 15 items, and all of them are (mostly cold) sandwiches. True, they are piled so high with freshly-sliced meat that you'll want to remove some in order to get your mouth around them. And true, my ham and my wife's turkey were very tasty. But what we're really talking about here is a sandwich shop, not what I would call a deli. Whenever I go to a deli for the first time, I always try a beef brisket sandwich and matzah-ball soup to get a feel for the joint, but not at Roscoe's. And not to be a cold-cut snob, but I wouldn't say that there's anything special about the meats Roscoe's uses; I can (and do) buy better cold cuts from my local Stater Brothers or Henry's Market for around $7 a pound.

Side dishes are limited to 5 different salads (like potato, macaroni, bean, etc.), a crock of chili (probably Hero's excellent recipe), or a cup of the soup of the day. A half pickle comes with each sandwich. Not liking salads like this, or pickles (see my deal about this), I can't really comment on how good they are, but I will note that you can't get fries or even chips on the side of your sandwich, which is a little unusual.

In other respects, Roscoe's is a jewel. The decor is classy, with marble-topped tables, a marble bar/counter, rich dark wood benches and booths, and fine white tile floors. There are two dozen novelty sodas available, such as Mexican Coke and Pepsi, Bubble-Up, Moxie, and my personal favorite, Sioux City Saspirilla (known as White Rock Root Beer to us New Yorkers). There are plenty of beers on tap too. In short, I love the decor and atmosphere at Roscoe's.

Simply put, I just wish the menu offerings matched the stylish environment.

Highs: Great atmosphere and soda selection. Good sandwiches.
Lows: Not much of a deli menu. The meats don't knock my socks off.
Bottom Line: A great sandwich shop, if not really a deli.
Roscoe's Famous Deli, 116 W. Commonwealth, Fullerton, CA 92832. 714-879-2153

I agree...

(Warren here. This comment is copied from my original website where the review appeared. It is copied completely, without any change whatsoever.)

I agree with almost everything in this review. I will add a comment about the bread used in the sandwiches. It's not what it should be; it has no "tooth." If you've had a sandwich at a place like Cantor's in L.A. (or a New York deli), you'll know what I mean. My wife, a former New Yorker, was deeply disappointed and said she wouldn't return--and this was before she finished half a sandwich (a Reuben--but not a "real" Reuben). Bottom line: this is a bar with sandwiches; the bar is far larger than the food case. (And the rude bozo in the corner talking too loudly in expletive-laced language didn't help with the experience.)
Anonymous (not verified) – Sun, 2005 – 04 – 24 14:30