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.
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! ©