When you think of an “old world deli,” what comes to mind? Perhaps some amazing cured meats? Italian or rye bread (depending on which part of the old world). Maybe cheeses that aren’t synonymous with Kraft or Velveeta? Root beer floats and pierogies probably don’t cross your mind, but when it comes to Szmidt’s Old World Deli, which has recently reopened in Downtown Pittsburgh, they are certainly worth trying.
And thus, while I came to Szmidt’s only seeking a pastrami sandwich, but I couldn’t help but fall for the other menu items. All the pops offered at Szmidt’s were of the old-school variety – made with real sugar – and I couldn’t ignore the allure of their draft root beer float. I can’t tell you the last time I had such a drink, but holy cow this was an amazing way to start the meal. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about downing it too fast before eating because it came with a single refill of the root beer without the float. I downed it crazy-fast and couldn’t wait for the real food to come.
Then we moved on to the pierogies, which came in both old world style (potato and cheddar) and new world style (buffalo chicken). These are made in-house and it really shows in the tender texture of the dough and the simple freshness you can truly taste. While the old world pierogies were quite good, the buffalo chicken really rocked the taste buds with a comfortable buffalo sauce kick and mix of shredded chicken, blue cheese and dough.
Finally, I got to my pastrami sandwich. I opted for the Cassidy, but ordered without the “wumbus” of slaw and with a slice of swiss cheese and thousand island. It was served on rye bread which, like the pastrami, was made in-house. It was definitely a different type of pastrami sandwich compared with the usual Jewish delis I have grown accustomed to. Yet, I welcomed the different spices I could taste and the other flavors that made it unique.
Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a city rich in good delis, and while Szmidt’s Old World Deli isn’t what you would normally expect from a classic deli, it is no less worthy of devouring. Just make sure you don’t leave without getting at least a taste of their new world pierogies.