Vincent Giordano regarded a case of cabbage that had just been delivered. He was satisfied with the big green heads, even though peak cabbage season, which began in April, drew to a close in November. It's the rare deli owner who thinks about cabbage season, but fresh cabbage is the main ingredient in Tulip's excellent coleslaw which, along with homemade potato and macaroni salads, distinguishes this bustling, Italian-accented, deli-caterer from many of its competitors.
"Ninety percent of delis on Long Island do not make their own coleslaw, potato salad or macaroni salad," Giordano said, but rather buy it from wholesalers.
Tulip Caterers and Delicatessen was founded by Giordano and his parents in 1986. The family was strongly committed to the idea of a friendly neighborhood shop where as much as possible was made from scratch.
For the coleslaw, the cabbage is trimmed and cored by hand, then machine shredded and mixed with mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and seasonings - the same few ingredients you'd use if you were to make it at home. All macaroni salads (both the classic with elbow macaroni and mayonnaise and a primavera style with rotini, vegetables and olive oil) are made with Barilla pasta which, Giordano said, "holds up best."
Giordano uses only big red-skinned potatoes for his potato salad. I liked both the stark classic and the vinegary, bacon-topped German style, but my favorite was the New England potato salad, made with potato hunks, cucumber, tomato, onion, mayonnaise and sour cream and named, somewhat obscurely, for the New England Patriots. -- By Erica Marcus
Vincent Giordano, owner of Tulip Caterers and Delicatessen in Franklin Square (Newsday Photo, 2009 / Erica Marcus)