The 818 is awash in terrific delis, from the expertly cured corned beef and deep-fried blintzes at Billy’s (Glendale) to the sausage subs and creamy gelato at Monte Carlo/Pinocchio (Burbank). But the living, breathing heart of the region’s deli scene is Northridge, which packs three quality, New York-style delis into 17 square miles.
The tour begins at Abe’s (formerly Solley’s) for the best matzo ball soup of any deli in greater L.A. The rich, perfectly salted broth is redolent with robust chicken flavor, and the matzo balls, though large, are light and taste powerfully of matzo brie. Avoid the pastrami -- it’s a rubbery, fatty mess -- but dip into the free pickle bin in the waiting area.
A deli lives or dies by its sliced meats (except, inexplicably, Jerry’s), and Brent’s is the high temple of carnivorous fealty. Try the super buffet platter of pastrami, corned beef, brisket, turkey and chopped liver. Top it off with a football-sized eclair. If you can still walk, head next door to the Stovepiper, a divey yet regal neighborhood bar awash in bourbon and nostalgia.
And while the Holly Hobbie decor at Weiler’s may turn the stomach, its potato knish, chicken potpie, rugelach and rum balls make it better. It’s all worth trying.