Last September the BEER BELLY DELI (1053 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-744-9888) opened for business under the watchful eye of the St. Gregory statue in Mount Adams. This family owned-and-operated business offers sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch and into the wee hours of weekend nights for hungry bar closers. Aware of their late-night reputation, I honestly wasn't expecting much in the way of atmosphere or food when I stopped in one Saturday afternoon with my two lovely assistants. I was pleasantly surprised.
The space is small and brightly lit by lots of windows. Fashioned after a New York-style deli, the walls proudly display black-and-white photos of New York landmarks. The restaurant emphasizes carryout, but there is one café table with bar stools and a small counter space.
1 ordered the Hot Italian Sub ($5.95), a six-incher with Genoa salami, capicolla, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, onion and oil and vinegar. The bread was warmed and stuffed full of Boar's Head luncheon meats, although the cold cuts were just that -- cold. She was disappointed at the temperature difference between the bread and the sandwich's innards.
Assistant No. 2 fared better with the Antipasto Salad ($6.50) made with lettuce, prosciutto, Genoa salami, ham, provolone, croutons, black olives, tomato, pepperoncini, oil and red wine vinegar. He enjoyed the high-quality meats and said the salad was very fresh.
I ordered the soup ($2.50) -- a tomato Florentine with pasta shells that day. The soups aren't homemade, and this one wasn't overly exciting, but it wasn't the salt-packed concoction I expect from most mass-produced soups.
The Vegetable Panni ($4.95) was quite good. The panni, a grilled, European-style sandwich, is filled with spinach, roasted red pepper, thinly sliced zucchini, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and a house veggie spread made with yogurt and coarse-grained mustard. The veggie spread was not what I expected, and I actually liked it better because of that. Instead of a thick cheesy layer, the spread had the consistency of a sauce and added a mustardy tang to the vegetables. I enjoyed the flavor of my sandwich, but one of my favorite things about it was that it looked like a Ruffles potato chip.
I hope the late-night crowd appreciates the quality of food Beer Belly Deli serves in the wee hours. In case you're wondering: No, they don't serve beer! ©