110514 brennans1The smoked-salmon on sesame-seed bagel from Brennan’s. Below, the menu board behind the deli counter. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


Brennan’s Deli in Rumson is all about the numbers.110514 brennans3 The board hanging above the deli counter lists 26 sandwich options – and those are just the regular suggestions; a daily special that can also be found on the website.

Having no time for a leisurely lunch this week, the takeout option brought PieHole to this old West River Road favorite. And while we ordered a number 17, a quick chat with owners Caryn McCann and John Yurish brought some of these numbers into perspective.

110514 brennans lighterJohn Yurish, an owner at Brennan’s, caught while having lunch himself.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Yurish, the “founder and creator of this concept,” said the deli opened 20 years ago, was sidelined by a fire in 2000 and reopened a couple of years later. While rebuilding after the fire, Yurish and McCann opened a second Brennan’s, in Oakhurst.

“We wanted to deliver good food to this area,” Yurish said while finishing his roast beef sandwich himself. “We’re both New Yorkers. We wanted to bring it down here.”

McCann has her customers’ preferences down pat.

“It all depends on the age and sex,” she says. “The number 18 [sliced chicken breast, Monterey jack cheese, bacon lettuce and tomato with honey mustard] is a big favorite with the high school crowd. The number 22 [turkey, cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayo] is mostly ordered by older women, while the number 14 is [roast beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, russian dressing and tomato isheartier and ordered mostly by men. But it depends on the mood and time of year.”

The number 17, a longtime PieHole favorite, combines smoked salmon, horseradish cream cheese, red onion and tomato served, as a rule, on pumpernickel bread. But a bagel is the preferred vehicle for all of that New York style goodness, and we know know to grab one from the bread and pastry table in the front of the store and hand it to the person taking my order behind the deli count. The strong bite of horseradish adds so much interest to this sandwich.

Brennan’s also has a busy catering business; sells fresh pastries and baked goods; has a butcher shop; and carries a selection of wine and beer. The house-made soups are not to be missed, but we’ll get into those in a future post.