In New Jersey, we know our delis. And if you’re not from the Garden State, any local can point you in the direction of NJ’s finest. One delicatessen in particular, however, has managed to garner more attention than most. Millburn Deli first opened on Millburn Avenue in 1946. Since then, they’ve made multiple local and national “best sandwich shop” lists, even appearing on the Food Network. Remember when they introduced Eli Manning to the Jersey Sloppy Joe? Most recently, Millburn Deli expanded its reach to Montclair. In an age of increasingly high expectations, we paid a visit to the new location in the name of “research.”
Inside Millburn Deli in Montclair
When word on the street got out that a famous Essex County deli would be expanding to Montclair, residents rejoiced. Mostly because the town recently lost one of its most iconic establishments, Watchung Deli. The storefront, which sits at 256 Park St., does not immediately differ from its sister locations in Millburn and Morristown. The space itself feels bigger and perhaps decidedly more modern but is decorated with the same snarky signage and mammoth, colorful menu that the deli is known for.
That being said, if you don’t know what to order before you walk in, you could be there awhile just staring at what feels like a never-ending list of subs. It’s hard to go wrong no matter what you end up choosing.
What We Ordered
To get a true feel for the place, we had to get two of their most famous sandwiches—a sloppy joe (with pastrami) and the Godfadda. After asking around, this seemed like the move. We also ordered the Turkey Trot, again, for research.
I grabbed a container of their homemade pickles, a jug of their original iced tea and made my way to the register. I had to consciously turn a blind eye to the desserts sitting on the counter. I’ll be back for the Oreo rice cereal treats.
What’s nice about the Montclair location is that although the deli itself is void of tables, its right across from Watching Plaza and even better, Watchung Park. The latter is practically begging you to have a picnic. The day we visited, the unseasonably warm mid-December weather afforded us the opportunity to eat al fresco.
So, How Was It?
Let’s get to the meat of the matter (pun very much intended). A sloppy joe is a triple-decker sandwich consisting of rye bread, your choice of deli meat, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and coleslaw. A sort of hybrid between a Rueben and a Rachel, I suppose.
As previously mentioned, I went with the pastrami, which much to my delight, wasn’t stringy or tough. The smokiness was able to cut through most of the richness. The Russian dressing did make for a slippery bite, I’ll admit. Although, you’d be well-advised to employ the Guy Fieri “hunch.”
The Godfadda is your stereotypical Jersey sandwich featuring two chicken cutlets and fresh mozzarella. It gets a twist with crispy bacon and more Russian dressing. The texture of the chicken cutlet wasn’t “woody,” which is mainly why I could see myself ordering this again. Or at the very least, left me inclines to try their other cutlet offerings.
The Turkey Trot was a delicious sort of mash-up of the two sandwiches I ate prior. It was “pressed” in the same way as the Godfadda and was also topped with bacon and Russian dressing. Similar to the sloppy joe, there was Swiss cheese and it came served on rye bread. The obvious difference was that it’s made with sliced roast turkey.
Oftentimes, too much hype around a place can be a bad thing. However, I’ve come to find that just like Millburn Deli’s generously portioned sandwiches, the new Montclair location does not lack substance.
Main photo by Abby Montanez