Some restaurants try to be all things to all people. Irving’s tries to be all things to people who love pastrami.
The newest tenant in the Woodbury Commons shopping center (in the space vacated by Crumbs Bake Shop) serves 14 pastrami-based sandwiches, pastrami on a hot dog, a pastrami-stuffed knish, a pastrami bowl, a paleo pastrami wrap, a pastrami salad and a pastrami acai berry bowl.
First-time restaurateur Andrew Fenton was inspired to go whole-pastrami, he said, by an old man he befriended when he was a boy in Lake Ronkonkoma. The whole story is recounted on the restaurant’s website, but it involves secret recipes, a fatal diagnosis and a final scene in which old Irving tells young Andrew, “I was never fortunate enough to do anything other than make it here in my kitchen, but promise me, if you ever get the chance, you will share my pastrami with the world.”
Andrew promises Irving that he would, “and that was the last time I ever saw him alive.”
In Woodbury, Fenton makes Irving’s secret sauce (mayonnaise-based, was all I could get out of him) but the pastrami is made elsewhere, to Irving’s secret specifications.
The sandwiches include “the classic” (pastrami, coleslaw and mustard on seeded onion rye), “Irving’s favorite” (pastrami and American cheese — Irving did not keep kosher — with secret sauce on French bread), “Buffalo Bleu (pastrami, crumbled melted blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, Buffalo sauce and ranch dressing on a club roll), the “angry Irving” (pastrami, provolone, chopped onions, pickled pepperoncini, mayonnaise and horseradish mayonnaise on a grilled sourdough roll) and pastrami sliders (pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing on mini challah rolls).
For those following a pastrami-free diet, there are also steak sandwiches and bowls, cold sandwiches, shredded chicken with barbecue sauce, chicken chili, a soup of the day, hand-cut fries, milkshakes and a handful of desserts.
Small sandwiches are $11 to $12; large, $14 to $15.
Important: During the next month, the restaurant will be slowly working itself up to full kitchen capacity; expect a limited menu until April 15.
The shop is clean and bright, with a long counter displaying all the wares and seating for about 25 people.
You may ask, how is the five-day-old Irving’s World Famous Pastrami already world famous? I’ll tell you, I don’t know. But Fenton hopes this will be the first of many more locations.
Irving’s World Famous Pastrami is in the Woodbury Commons shopping center at 8285 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-340-6017, irvingspastrami.com.