$29 & Under: Saati Deli offers satisfying taste of New York cuisine

If you want a big, fat, New York-style pastrami sandwich, and perhaps some specialty cold cuts and h

Saati Deli & Catering

WHERE: 586 New Loudon Road, Newton Plaza, Latham

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $25.95

MORE INFO: 783-1600. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, wheelchair accessible.

If you want a big, fat, New York-style pastrami sandwich, and perhaps some specialty cold cuts and hand-cut fish by the pound, you’ll find them at Saati, the new Mediterranean-style restaurant and caterer that opened a few months ago in Newton Plaza in Latham.

Maybe, like some of us, you miss New York and its hard rolls and heavenly sandwiches with a ridiculous inch-thick filling of meat. Or, you want someplace to get good lox and herring and some Boar’s Head cold cuts (sliced very thin, of course). If so, Saati is the place for you.

No matter where we move, we miss the foods of our youth. I can’t imagine longing for St. Louis chili, the hot stuff with plenty of beans ladled over spaghetti, or lutefisk, basically codfish cured in lye by enthusiastic Swedes, which husband Eric recalls with horror. (“At least my parents didn’t make us eat it,” he said.) But some former Midwesterner, somewhere, has fond memories of those dishes.

But Saati isn’t about old; it’s about new, fresh Mediterranean food. And the restaurant itself is new and fresh, bright, sparkling clean, and handsome, with walls painted an array of warm colors ranging from pumpkin to cocoa. Ceiling fans whirred the air when we visited, sending good smells about the place. “Mmm,” said Mom, breathing deeply the scent of pickles, fresh smoked fish and baklava.

You can sit at a spotless, comfortable table inside the peaceful restaurant, or, if the weather’s fine, dine outside overlooking a parking lot in the most sophisticated style that can be conjured up in Latham. When you arrieve, ogle the crystal cases of fresh cooked meats and fish, then choose a drink from the cooler and head to the register to put in your order.

Order at the counter

Mom was sidetracked by the fresh kosher challah bread ($4.99), casually piled up like it was nothing special, but of course it was. She makes a gorgeous golden glossy braided challah herself, but recognizes a good one when she sees it. We bought a loaf, put in our order and were given a number and took our linen-wrapped utensils to a table. Our food was served by a friendly, chatty young woman: big fat pastrami on rye ($8.49) for Mom, a healthy grilled vegetable salad ($8.99) for me.

“They have good soda,” observed Mom, who was pleased to find a Dr. Brown’s diet cream in the cooler. I agreed; I order their diet black cherry whenever I find it. We didn’t wait long for our food, but Mom was looking for her favorite part of any meal. “Where are the french fries?” she asked. “They’re probably not done yet,” I said as the server hurried off to find them. Meantime, we admired her New York-style pastrami sandwich, with the requisite inch of meat on moist rye with caraway seeds.

“What a treat,” said Mom, biting into the tender meat seasoned with lots of brown mustard. She took a deep breath. “I haven’t smelled anything like that in a long time,” she said, approvingly. We’ve both been watching our weight, so I was surprised to see both halves of her generous sandwich disappear, but then, you have to take advantage of a good pastrami sandwich when you find it.

The fries arrived, to much admiration; golden and crisp and sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley. “I don’t think I’ll need ketchup to go with these,” said Mom. And true enough, the ketchup bottle sat undisturbed through the meal. These pretty slender fries didn’t need anything — in fact, when we finished them off the plate was almost greaseless. They were crisp outside, soft within, and with terrific flavor, which Mom attributed to peanut oil. “You can cook at a much higher temperature with peanut oil than with other oils,” she instructed.

Slight disappointment

“I thought there would be more vegetables,” said Mom when she saw my salad. I did, too, but the big bowl of flawless Romaine and cup of fresh pesto made up for it. You order dressing for this salad, but it doesn’t need it once you work in the small cup of pesto, which settles into the crinkles of the Romaine lettuce. The cup of balsamic vinaigrette seemed like gilding on the lily, but it made a good salad even better. I enjoyed the fresh plum tomato slices, grilled red pepper, yellow and green squash and portobello mushroom slices but would have liked more of them. The feta, lovely small blocks white as snow, overshadowed all: There must have been a half pound making up the pinnacle of the salad.

“It’s got a lot of flavor,” I told the server, when she asked about the cheese, meaning it was a bit too salty, even for me. I’d piled some in the dressing cup to take home, not wanting to waste it. “It ‘s special, we get it from Israel,” she said. “If it’s too salty you can keep it in water, like we do here,” she added helpfully.

We finished off our lunches and resolved to return for some baklava. The tab, including two Dr. Brown’s sodas minus one loaf of challah bread, came to $25.95.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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