WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ROAST BEEF ON A ROLL

willow deli sandwichAt under five bucks, the roast beef sandwich from Willow Deli negates the bad parking lot feng shui. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

The Willow Deli is located on Willow Drive between downtown Little Silver and the Little Silver train station, and we can’t think of any deli on the Green we’ve driven past more often without ever having stopped in for a bite.

Perhaps something about the positioning of the parking lot at the apex of the curve on Willow hinted of bad feng shui and put us off our feed every time we’ve thought about grabbing a sandwich there.

willow deli chipsIn addition to a variety of Hostess treats, Willow Deli has a good selection of chips, too. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

In any case, this week we slowed down just a bit more than usual as we passed by, took note of the proliferation of trades vans and trucks (generally a good sign for a lunch stop) and painlessly docked the What’s For Lunch-mobile down on Parker Ave, the side street that runs adjacent to the deli.

A few minutes after noon, there were a half-dozen or so customers waiting to pickup takeout lunch orders.  A couple of tables would permit an eat-in option, but we opted to take our order to-go. The service was kindly efficient — speedy but not gruff. We inquired about the Willow Chicken sandwich ($5.99, chicken breast with melted cheese) but seeing the specials board opted for the roast beef sandwich ($4.79).

Willow Deli uses Boar’s Head cold cuts and has a good chips and beverage selection that includes a lot of Snapple and Arizona options. The shop also has an impressive rack of Hostess treats that goes beyond your usual Twinkies and cupcakes to include Zingers, Sno-balls and Fruit Pies, too.

A Boar’s Head sandwich for under five bucks is a rarity, and frankly we weren’t expecting much when we got home to unwrap our sandwich. If we were in a good-deli-sandwich wasteland like Ohio, the roast beef from Willow Deli would be exceptional. But as we have no shortage of great delis in our area, the sandwich was average.

There was nothing wrong with the crisp lettuce or tender roast beef and nice chewy roll, but nothing extraordinary, either. We’re not complaining though.  We take Warren Zevon’s advice seriously and we enjoy every sandwich no matter how average it is.