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DINING: Stanley's New York Deli serves 86th and Ditch neighborhood

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Dining - A&E

This month, we visit restaurants that have set up shop in sites formerly occupied by other restaurants. In the case of Stanley's New York Deli (8555 Ditch Road, 254-DELI), that site used to belong to an easily forgotten eatery called Tokyo Joe's.

More important to Stanley's, though, was the relocation a few years back of Shapiro's, which used to occupy a spot on nearby West 86th Street. When the famed local deli restaurant moved to Carmel, it left an overstuffed sandwich culinary void begging to be filled. And while newcomer Stanley's—also locally owned—doesn't have the scale or history of Shapiro's, it's making a valiant effort to bring real deli back to the neighborhood.

Let's get the downside out of the way quickly. On my visit, the Mish/Mash soup of chicken broth, noodles, rice and a tennis-size matzo ball ($3.99/bowl) was a flavorless disappointment. That letdown, though, was quickly forgotten courtesy of a hefty Clevelander sandwich ($8.99) that harmoniously brought together oven-roasted turkey breast, Swiss cheese, homemade coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing on thick rye bread. The made-right-there potato chips are an addictive plus for those who don't mind the heavy salting. Potato Latkes ($2.25 a pair) had the requisite crunch and taste, with minimal oiliness. And the Wrigley Special ($7.99)—hot Italian beef, cheese and peppers with an au jus dip—let the flavorful meat do the talking.

OK, so maybe it was a little odd to order a Chicago-inspired sandwich—and the Clevelander, for that matter—in a place that calls itself a New York deli, but who can argue when the results work so well?

Stanley's also knows what it's doing when the main course is done. We bypassed the made-elsewhere cakes in favor of Rugulah (sold by the pound), thick pastry cookies that are perfect for coffee dunking. The flat Brownie ($1.50) offered an alternative if you prefer something richer.

Oh, and if you find yourself invited to a Passover dinner this week—or if you are hosting one yourself—you now have a place to stop for terrific chopped liver that won't require leavening with extra onion or egg.

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