By Beverly Savage
Published: January 19, 2003

Tired of tuna carpaccio with shaved fennel or yet another mediocre dish of pad thai? Cold weather means solid, comforting food like the macaroni and cheese at Towne Deli in Summit. This dish ($4.95 a pound) is made by the deli’s chef, Rita Stravaskus, who says her secret is ”a lot of cheese.” The crusty, buttery casserole is my madeleine, transporting me back to the meatless Fridays of childhood.

Towne Deli opened as an A.&P. in 1904. Art Handrinos converted it in 1958 into a liquor store and a deli known for home cooking. Today, it is run by his son, Lewis, and a partner, Rick Stampf, along with Lewis’s sister, Athena. They serve homemade muffins, hearty sandwiches, cole slaw and baked beans and, on Mondays, slightly greasy but perfectly spiced fried chicken ($4.99 a pound). Ms. Stravaskus, who for years owned the Court Diner in Morristown, makes an authentic spinach pie (available on special order) as well as a rice pudding that is dense, ultracreamy and not sweet ($1.25 a cup). Just as popular are triple-decker sloppy joes created with any combination of cold cuts. The adorable ”party joes” ($14.99), which have an extra layer of meat and serve four, are best made with roast beef.

In warm weather, contractors and tennis moms crowd the counter for freshly brewed iced tea ($2 a quart, $1.25 a pint). The tea is brewed somewhere downstairs in a process that spans two days and involves fresh lemons. Take it to go as the locals do — in a quart-size plastic food container with a hole punched in the top for the straw.

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By Spencer Breslin

…[W]e get sandwiches at the Towne Deli. My mom and I love their special Sloppy Joe sandwiches: deli meat, coleslaw and Russian dressing on three pieces of rye bread. These are the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. My dad likes a roast beef sub and my sister, Abigail, always gets a plain turkey sandwich on plain white bread.

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Serving generations of residents, Towne Deli has garnered a somewhat legendary reputation in Summit and surrounding areas.

The subs and Sloppy Joes (New Jersey style, of course) are celebrated but the shop also serves additional American eatery fare such as egg salad sandwiches and cheese steaks. There are also more adventurous choices like the Cajun po boy and coconut chicken wrap.

Reputed to make Jersey’s favorite chocolate chip cookie and iced tea, the deli also provides a wine and beer selection, a catering menu, and a freezer stocked with freshly made pastas and soups. The deli is located across from the New Providence train station.

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The best deli in the whole world.

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