Favorites: Chiocca’s pastrami on rye

Pastrami on rye is a grand old sandwich originating in 19th century New York delis. For nearly half of the sandwich’s history, it’s been available at Chiocca’s Downstairs Deli in the Museum District ($8.50). We may be hundreds of miles from The Big Apple, but Chiocca’s knows how to do right by this classic: thin slices of hot pastrami piled high on toasted rye bread with a side of chips.

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Chiocca’s Downstairs Deli

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Daniel Warshaw

Daniel Warshaw would rather be taking pictures.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. yoo hoo on said:

    It’s good but definitely not “piled high”. It’s miniscule compared to what you get in NYC!

  2. I’d agree yoo hoo that, relative to NYC, it’s not piled high. But relative to most other sandwiches around Richmond it’s certainly pretty thick.

  3. scott on said:

    My favorite sammich joint in RVA. My two favorites are the Son of a Beast, roast beef, melted cheddar, green peppers, lettuce, tomato and onion with horseradish, and The Downstairs, salami, prosciutto, anchovies, provolone, swiss, onions, sweet hot peppers, and Italian dressing. They are both amazing. But I can’t lie, I’ve had the pastrami on rye and it’s great. And their Sailor sammich is amazing to. People should definitely check that spot out. Be prepared to wait for your sammich, but it’s worth it.

  4. Mike Jasp on said:

    For pastrami lovers like me, I’m noticing a frightening trend of late. “Top Round Pastrami” is being used as “pastrami” and is now the only option at the deli counter at Kroger. When i need real pastrami sliced to go, ive gone to coppolas lately but am trying to find more options. This stuff is a cousin of “turkey pastrami” and neither one is actually traditional pastrami.

    Pastrami is, or should be, the beef brisket cut that is corned and then smoked (with the common spices packed on the outside). Basically corned beef that is taken to another level. Whats becoming popular is to take a common beef top round, like that processed turkey at the deli counter, and rubbing the tradisional pastrami spices/seasonings on the outside and calling it pastrami. Its easy to spot if it ends up on your sandwhich. Just take a bite and notice the roast beef flavor and lack of fat marble. The top round is big and, um , roundish…..the traditional brisket used for real pastrami is flat (the flat cut of the brisket) producing long narrow slices that are well marbled.

    Im not sure, but i assume the knockoff is cheaper. If you love pastrami and find someone selling the spiced roast beef as pastrami, complain.

    Btw i haven’t eaten the pastrami sandwhich at chioccas but knowing the place i have no doubt its the real deal and will get one soon.

  5. Mike Jasp on said:

    …allow me to add that folks may argue that the navel cut of the brisket it the true traditional cut….either way, dont rub pepper and corriander on a top round, bake it and call it pastrami.

  6. Delrose on said:

    Scott, don’t call it a “sammich”. Give the Earl his due.

  7. Katelyn on said:

    The Beast is the best sandwich. It’s worth the wait.

  8. yoo hoo on said:

    I agree with Mike. Recently ordered a pastrami sandwich (another restaurant) and it didn’t have that wonderful fat marbling that makes pastrami taste so good. There truly is a difference that you can taste!

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