Tony's 8th Street Deli (Lunch Review)

Meatloaf Heaven

He looked like a Tony, but when a regular came in and addressed our host as Bill, I realized my mistake. I asked the woman at the cash register and she informed us that Bill Fuerst bought Tony’s 8th Street Deli (326 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-564-9866) about three years ago and decided to keep the name. She ought to know; it turns out she is Bill’s mother!

Even without this family history, my husband and I immediately felt comfortable in the dining room with its black-and-white 1950s diner décor. Bill’s mom occasionally engaged us in conversation as we watched a steady stream of regulars come in and greet Bill as they placed their orders.

The lunch menu includes a nice selection of hot and cold sandwiches and salads and an amazing list of rotating house specialties (prices available onsite), which includes Chicken Ala King, Southern Oven Fried Chicken Salad, The “Cod Father,” Pulled Pork Barbeque and Tony’s Mostacolli. And he produces all of this on an industrial hot plate; he doesn’t have a conventional stove. Bill gets there at 12:30 a.m. to prep and serve breakfast and lunch, but he says he loves it.

I took Bill’s recommendation of the Meatloaf Sandwich ($5), and I’m sorry to have to tell all the mothers and grandmothers out there, but Bill has one-upped you in the meatloaf department. My own mother placed the loaf on slices of white bread while it baked to soak up some of the grease, but there wasn’t a sign of this grease on the thick slices of rye bread that cradled my tomatotopped slices of old-timey wonderment.

It might seem like culinary suicide to some to serve a sandwich without lettuce or other condiments, but I have to say it would be a crying shame if anyone tried to adorn this meatloaf, which is his mother’s recipe, with as much as a dill pickle spear served on the side. On follow-up, Bill told me, “All the best recipes I have came from the women in my life, and the ex-women in my life!” (He got his ex-wife’s lasagna recipe in the divorce, he added with a laugh.)

My husband had the Chef Salad ($6.50), which came with mounds of shaved turkey, roast beef and ham, diced tomatoes, sliced hard-boiled egg and red onion. I was disappointed to hear that they wouldn’t be making soup until the summer. (Bill shrugged as he explained the eerie phenomena of people only buying soup when it hits 90 degrees outside). The Chicken Pot Pie soup ($3) sounded like it would be a tonic for my recent and persistent jonesing for comfort food.

As we left, however, Bill convinced me that next time I should try to Napa Valley Chicken Salad ($6.50). He sure didn’t steer me wrong the first time, so I’ll be back for that salad soon!