November 1, 2012

Eat and Run: Belly good ...

... hungry bad, apparently, since the Full Belly Deli takes such pains to ensure its customers won't be after ordering from its giant menu.

I can think of no restaurant more aptly named in Greater Portland than the Full Belly Deli. Because, man alive, am I ever stuffed.

click image to enlarge

Order the corned beef Reuben special from Full Belly Deli on Brighton Avenue in Portland, and the hefty sandwich arrives accompanied by some sidekicks – a pickle, coleslaw and potato salad.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Goldie Gordios calls out sandwich orders inside the Full Belly Deli at Pine Tree Shopping Center in Portland. The tray includes the Fall Fowl, Hamwich and Perkey Turkey.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 1070 Brighton Ave., Portland; 772-1227

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

CHEAPEST GRUB: Jumbo hot dog, $2.99

WAIT: 10 to 15 minutes

PARKING: Shopping plaza lot


RATING: ****

Based on a five-star scale

It was like walking into Grand Central Station on the Friday I chose to get takeout. There were about eight people in line in front of me, and many of the seats were taken. Said another way: The joint was jumping.

And speaking of Grand Central Station, the Full Belly Deli is one of the few places in Maine where you can get the best of traditional Jewish deli fare a la New York City haunts like Katz's Delicatessen or the Carnegie Deli.

I immediately slipped into a state of "what am I going to order?" panic upon scanning the giant menu painted on the wall. Did I want a burger? (Basic Belly Burger with fries is $6.49.) Did I want a potato knish or three ($2.49 each)? Did I want a hot brisket dinner ($10.99)?

Things got really exciting when my eyes darted from sandwich to sandwich ($4.99 to $10.99), and I knew I was close to a decision.

Suddenly, it hit me like a Russian dressing-drenched lightning bolt. One of the most satiating words in the English language lit up my eyes: Reuben.

The "Regal Reuben" comes topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, and grilled on rye. (I chose marble). You get your choice of corned beef or pastrami. I chose the former, and it was a darn good call.

The $9.59 price tag seemed a little steep, but not after I got the thing out to my car and dug in. There was no looking back. The corned beef was lean, flavorful and festooned with sauerkraut and Russian dressing. It was an indulgent feast.

But if Reubens aren't your bag, there are countless other options. Take, for example, the Kosher-style deli sandwiches. You want bologna? They have bologna ($5.99). You want chopped liver? They've got it ($9.29). And yep, if you're a tongue person, that too can be yours for $10.99.

In the mood for Italian? No problem. The Full Belly Deli's got a 10-inch cheese pizza for $4.89 (toppings available for $1.29 each). You can also get a fresh dough calzone with your choice of two items for $7.99.

Another impressive facet of the Full Belly Deli menu is the side orders. A partial list includes meatballs, clam cakes, cheese blintzes, lokshen kugel (noodle pudding) and baked beans.

As for dessert, Full Belly Deli has whoopie pies, cheesecake, carrot cake, grapenut pudding and bread pudding. It also has black and white cookies, and how I walked out of there without a bag of them tucked under my arm, I'll never know.

Happy noshing. 

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.


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