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EATS: in and around the Valley | TIDBITS

Deli Delights

Summer offers the perfect opportunity to try specialty sandwiches, salads.

July 16, 1998|JUAN HOVEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Summer has come at last, and along with it the high hot sun of Southern California--so who wants to cook?

People tend to eat lightly during the summer months, and since the heat of the season also keeps folks out of their own kitchens, they seek out good delis for sandwiches, salads and the like.

Here are five among many great delis in the San Fernando Valley:

The Van Nuys German Deli, run by Wilma Rosner, offers pretty much every German food and beverage item you can think of--wine, sausage and cold cuts, cakes and other sweets, and, of course, beers, including the best of all German dark beers, Spatten Optimator.

"This is like a 7-Eleven from Germany, you know?" says Rosner's daughter, Petra Kuske, who opened the first Van Nuys German Deli with her mother in 1971 and moved the deli to its present location in North Hills eight years ago.

"We have everything German--bratwurst, baked goods, cheeses, salads, vinegars, German chocolates, cold cuts, knackwurst, even German newspapers."

Rosner and Kuske sell a long list of sandwiches stuffed with bologna, veal loaf, liverwurst, mixed cold cuts and even New England ham, all for $4.

Another four bits gets you salami, turkey breast or Black Forest ham in your sandwich, and for $4.75 you can have German ham, Prager ham, burgundy ham or roast beef. A knackwurst sandwich costs $2.95; two German wieners the same. A small meat salad goes for $1.60, a small herring salad for $2.75.

Van Nuys German Deli is at 16155 Roscoe Blvd., near Woodley Avenue in North Hills, (818) 892-2212.

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No list of the Valley's delis is complete without mentioning Brent's Delicatessen in Northridge--and if you listen to owner Ron Peskin and his children Brent and Carie, who share duties running the deli, nothing ever changes at this place.

"We add about one item a year to the menu, maybe two," Brent Peskin says with a chuckle. "We've been here 29 years, and it's worked out well. Why change?"

Actually, he exaggerates a bit, because the menu does boast some new items, chief among them a chicken-stuffed cabbage served with mashed potatoes, kishke, cole slaw and pickles.

Also new: Lake Superior whitefish served in a salad or sliced on a bagel, Pacific cod on a bagel, and baked salmon.

The Peskins started baking desserts on the premises about four years ago and now offer a long list of fancy cakes and cheesecakes. Among the new desserts are lemon bars, big chocolate eclairs, tapioca pudding, a lemon bundt cake and a chocolate chip espresso cookie.

Brent's Delicatessen is at 19565 Parthenia Street, Northridge, (818) 886-5679.

The Tarzana Armenian Grocery and Deli is another fixture of the scene in the Valley, nearly three decades having passed since Mesrob Chelebian opened it.

People know Chelebian as Pops, and they come to his place for the turkey and "vegi delight" sandwiches, among others, made small or large, and for the salads.

Of these, the most popular are the baba ghannouj, made with eggplant grilled and pureed and mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic; the spicy Armenian eggplant grilled with chopped tomato and chili; and the hummus and tabbouleh. Pops Chelebian doesn't spend every waking hour at his deli these days, but if he isn't there to greet you, at least one member of his big family will be.

The Tarzana Armenian Grocery and Deli is open seven days a week. It is at 18598 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, (818) 881-6278.

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Krakus Restaurant and Deli in North Hills offers a long list of plates for those who love authentic Polish food.

They make their own pickles at this place, and their own soups. You can get such ordinary deli fare as a sandwich with turkey, roast beef or pastrami. You can also get a sandwich with Polish ham, Polish sausage and pork loin.

And if you want to be adventurous, you can try the barszcz z uszkami, bialy barszcz z kielbasa, or golabki--otherwise known, respectively, as borscht with dumplings, white borscht with sausage, and cabbage stuffed with spiced beef, rice and a gravy made with sauteed onions, tomatoes or mushrooms.

Owner Walter Martin, who opened this place three years ago come November, also serves three special luncheon and dinner plates that change every day or two, including such dishes as beef stroganoff and Vienna sausage.

Prices for the sandwiches go to $4.25, the borscht soups will set you back all of $2.99 and the dinners are $8.99 max.

Krakus Restaurant and Deli is at 16225 Parthenia St., at the corner of Woodley Avenue in North Hills, (818) 893-7122.

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At Abe's Deli and Family restaurant in Northridge, meanwhile, people ask for the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, for the chicken soup with matzo balls or kreplach and for the all-beef Chicago kosher hot dogs.

You can order the hot dogs plain or with chili, with chili and cheese, or with melted cheese and grilled onion--not very kosher, but good.

A full sandwich goes for $8.75 max, a half sandwich for $6. The chicken soup costs $4.55, and the kosher hot dogs $5.55 tops.

Also on the big menu at Abe's: nearly two dozen salads, including a big chef's salad for $9.25, a Greek salad for $9.45 and a spinach salad for $8.65.

And you can't leave this place, which is run by Barbara Schilling and opened 17 years ago, without getting something at the old-time soda fountain--sundaes, a banana split, ice cream sodas, shakes, malts, an egg cream, a phosphate, and what Schilling calls a "black cow" frosted root beer.

What do these things cost? Who cares when you're having fun? Ditto the calories.

Abe's Restaurant and Deli is at 19626 Nordhoff St., Northridge, (818) 701-5569.

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Juan Hovey writes about the restaurant scene in the San Fernando Valley and outlying points. He may be reached at (805) 492-7909 or fax (805) 492-5139 or via e-mail at jhovey@gte.net

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