The reuben that rules Waukesha
During his tenure as executive chef at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, Dan Strackbein took some continuing education courses at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. The dining delights of New York City were within reach down the Hudson River, and he did some exploring.
That most New York of institutions, the corned beef and pastrami emporium-deli, tripped his switch. "This is what I want to do," Strackbein recalls thinking. Like many chefs, he hoped to own his own restaurant, and a New York-style delicatessen became the goal.
Downtown Waukesha may not exactly be Times Square, but The Rochester Deli has been flourishing there since June of 2004. Strackbein and his wife Laura, who runs the business side of the operation, say it is a fun coincidence that their restaurant is on a street named Broadway.
The Rochester Deli's signature item, a reuben sandwich on marble rye (8.25), has given the establishment an identity that extends beyond Waukesha. The eatery has expanded from a corner space into the storefront next door, and the Stackbeins wish they had further room to grow in the 1917-vintage building.
The eclectically-decorated dining room can accommodate about 50, and another 20 persons can be seated outdoors in the summer. A second Rochester Deli location is a possibility if the couple can find a location they like.
New York Jewish delicatessens always have matzoh ball soup on their menus. Dan Strackbein offers a cousin of that delicacy to his Waukesha customers – his own chicken dumpling soup. He sells it in varying sizes up to a quart, and you can also buy it frozen.
In addition to the reuben, he makes a rachel sandwich ($7.95), which substitutes turkey for corned beef. Hand carved pastrami or corned beef sammies are $7.85, and just like the delis in the Big Apple, you can get a combination of the two meats stuffed between two slices of lightly seeded rye bread for $9.25.
Specialty sandwiches with more of a Waukesha flair include meatloaf wrapped in bacon with a barbecue glaze grilled on Vienna bread ($7.65), chicken parmigiana on a roll ($7.25) and grilled vegetable panini ($7.25). They come with a choice of a side.
Honey ham ($6.55), egg salad ($5.75) and Usinger's liver sausage ($6.50) are among the simpler sammies offered. The deli also prepares wraps, salads and Vienna all-beef hotdogs.
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Believe it or not, there's life in Waukesha (hey, I was a doubter when I had to move from the East Side). Rochester Deli is one of the best restaurants in the metro area, hands-down. I feel good about eating home-cooked food and spending locally. Do yourself a favor and take a Saturday afternoon to explore downtown Waukesha along with lunch at Rochester Deli.
DT | Jan. 17, 2012 at 10:09 a.m. (report)
This place looks and sounds great! Expansion? I'd love to see something like this in Downtown or Third Ward.
Everything that comes out of Rochester's kitchen, is fresh, well prepared, priced reasonably, and most of all . . . tasty & delicious.
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