Lunch Anyone? Zaftig’s Delicatessen

Jewish deli with a twist

By Allison Thomasseau
BU Today
April 28, 2011

Zaftigs touts the fact that “it ain’t your grandma’s deli,” and it makes good on its promise.

Despite serving a number of classic Jewish delicatessen dishes, Zaftigs is not kosher. Instead, it calls itself a new Jewish–style restaurant, a place where your grandmother will “kvell over the brisket” and where you can order smoked ham and sausages. The deli, on the outskirts of Coolidge Corner, opened 14 years ago.

There are more than 200 items on Zaftigs’ menu, so choosing what to eat can take some time. (Our waiter had to come back three times before we were ready to order, and did so uncomplainingly). There are the classic standbys: hot corned beef sandwich ($12.95), pastrami sandwich ($12.95), potato pancakes ($8.95), and chicken soup with matzo ball ($3.75–$8.95). And there are many less traditional offerings, including the deli’s famous banana stuffed French toast, made with a bourbon vanilla batter and served with date butter ($8.95). You can order every imaginable salad, burger, or hot sandwich. Breakfast is served all day, allowing you indulge your craving for an omelet or scrambled eggs at dinner.

We began our lunch with complimentary bagel chips and herb cream cheese. The cream cheese was whipped and fluffier than I expected, and nicely countered the spiciness of the bagel chips.

We ordered an assortment of food for our meal: sandwiches, a salad, and an entrée. The pastrami and Swiss sandwich ($12.95) was our favorite and was very filling. The deli’s Cobb wrap ($11.50) was less successful: it was dry and could have used more sauce to balance the alfalfa sprouts. However, it came with plenty of bacon and avocado. All sandwiches are served with a homemade pickle and a choice of fries, potato salad, or coleslaw. We ordered the potato salad and fries, and both were delicious. The potato salad was sweet, but not overpowered by too much mayonnaise, the downfall of so many potato salads. And we couldn’t get enough of the fries, which were crunchy and salty on the outside and soft on the inside.

The turkey pot pie ($12.95) was satisfying, but nothing exceptional given its price. Although the kitchen was out of croutons, the Caesar salad ($7.95) was another favorite. The vinaigrette dressing was tangy, with just the right amount of garlic. Adding chicken was expensive ($3.50), and did not seem to enhance the salad much.

Service was fast, and we were not left waiting for our food or the check. Our waiter was friendly, and the deli exudes a hip atmosphere, enhanced by mood lighting and eclectic paintings. Zaftigs’ prices are a little steep for college students on a budget. But it’s a great place for a special lunch out or a spontaneous splurge. If you’re looking for a trendy take on the classic Jewish deli, head over to Zaftigs.

Zaftigs has two locations: Brookline and Natick, Mass. The Brookline delicatessen, 335 Harvard St., is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is accessible by taking the T’s Green Line C trolley to the Coolidge Corner stop. Phone: 617-975-0075. Zaftigs takes all major credit cards.

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