The list of what's contributed to the longevity of Oliver's Delicatessen is short: good food, reasonable prices and friendly faces. It's a basic enough formula that other eateries try to emulate. For more than 30 years, Oliver's has maintained a steady, and apparently loyal, following - and it's easy to see why.
This neighborhood deli is homey with the requisite chalkboard featuring a long list of sandwiches and salads. Everything is made to order and food arrives quickly. This family-run business drew a steady crowd during our visit.
There's a daily house-made soup, homemade breakfast breads and spins on popular sandwich combinations. That creativity is immediately evident in the names, such as Cool Hand Cuke and Tom Terrific, given to some of the meals-between-slices-of-bread. It's also obvious in their execution.
Consider the Pikes Peak Dip ($6.50). This is no standard French dip with waferlike slices of beef and a cup of au jus. First, the beef is not cut paper thin. Instead, the pieces of meat are more substantial, which allows the flavor and texture to lead the dance. We ordered it with a slice of provolone, which melted nicely on the French roll. The au jus was light with just the right amount of salt. The roll held up well to the constant dipping. Served with a crunchy dill pickle, there wasn't a need for anything else.
Oliver's offers several mix-and-match possibilities: half a sandwich with a small garden salad ($7.49); a garden salad with a bowl of soup ($7.49); or half a sandwich with a cup of soup ($7.79) A daily quiche also makes it way as a combo with either a salad or cup of soup.
The soup on my most recent visit was vegetable. I combined this with half a Sunflower Sandwich and felt as if I should be sitting in a market produce section. Half a sandwich is plenty. Avocado, tomato, lettuce and mayo are piled high on wheat bread. A small container of sunflower seeds is an accompaniment. They provide a nice contrast to the smooth, creamy avocado. There's a choice of lettuce or sprouts.
The soup was chock full of nearly every imaginable vegetable. It would be quicker to say the only one I didn't detect was okra - not that I was disappointed. Each spoonful was loaded with bites of fresh veggies that still held a crunch. The tomato base was a bit acidic, but overall this was comfort food.
The Oliver ($6.65) is noted as "a local favorite." Thickly sliced, salty corned beef on toasted rye with cole slaw, melted Swiss cheese and Russian dressing is exactly what this beloved perennial should be: a savory, two-handed feast.
We ordered a BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Turkey) ($6.65) to go. This was as much to see how it held up to a drive across town, and also to taste the turkey and bacon. Neither disappointed. Although, the thick slices of bacon did steal the stage. The other elements were fine, but the bacon was particularly smoky. It was also nice to know that if we need to, we can order to go and not lose any flavors, textures or freshness.
In addition to the more than a dozen specialty sandwiches, Oliver's offers build-your-own options. Choices may be made from four types of bread, 13 meats (including egg salad, tuna or Buffalo chicken), five cheeses, vegetables and dressings. It's also possible to have some of the specialties made as wraps.
Orders are placed at the counter, where individually wrapped cookies and slices of the homemade breads are displayed. These are of the sugary variety; those used in the sandwiches are not made on site. The sweet breads are also sold by the loaf ($8.50).
We tried the lemon poppyseed. It was light, lemony and provided just the amount of sweetness we needed to end our lunch on a sated, but not overstuffed, note.