Restaurants may be open for takeout only, but at Russell’s Deli in Ballston Spa, Russell Shapiro is still offering his full menu.
“Business is way down, about 50 percent,” he said. “But many will buy a breakfast or sandwich and then buy cold cuts or one of my hot meals for a dinner later. That’s gone up by five times. And the take-home dinners have gone up. More people are spending out, with some families buying more for weeks.”
Shapiro is well versed in deli life, as he had three successful delis in the Westchester County area before moving to the Capital Region 12 years ago. Because of his New York City connections, he still gets his breads, cannolis and bagels delivered daily. He also carries gluten-free rolls from Saratoga Gluten Free Goods in Schuylerville and Boar’s Head cold cuts. He himself makes all the hot meals like his pulled BBQ pork topped with coleslaw, daily specials and goodies such as the chocolate eclairs he was featuring the day I went in for breakfast.
Shapiro also roasts his own turkey and roast beef, as well as making several types of salad and rice pudding.
“When I open at 4 a.m., I’m in here cooking everything up,” Shapiro said.
I decided to try one of Shapiro’s omelet breakfasts to go: a three-egger with spinach and feta, home fries and buttered whole wheat toast ($7.50), and a small cup of dark-roast coffee ($1.50). What a feast — more than I could eat at one sitting — and all so tasty. Plastic utensils and packets of ketchup were provided.
The omelet had a very generous helping of spinach with chunks of feta. And the eggs are local, from Thomas Poultry Farm in Schuylerville. The potatoes with their skins were cut into fairly sizeable pieces — I might have cut them smaller at home — and fried to a golden brown. There were so many that I’d be able to reheat a portion for a later meal. Shapiro doesn’t spice anything up but will if the customer requests it, he said.
I also decided to get a half-pound of his seafood salad ($7 a pound) for the next day’s lunch.
Currently, Shapiro has only two employees, who split their shifts. His wife, Judy, well-known for her delicious Irish soda bread that she makes around St. Patrick’s Day, occasionally tends the cash register.
Russell’s is convenient to downtown and right next to the Union Fire Company No. 2. Parking is ample.
Where: 303 Milton Ave., Ballston Spa; 518-885-3354.
When: Monday-Saturday 4 a.m.-2 p.m.; order by phone or in store; pickup in store or curbside.
More info: Menu at www.russellsdeli.com.