The logo for 6-month-old 41st Street Deli resembles the London tube symbol, with a bar across a red circle with the name of the deli as if it were a subway stop.
It is hidden on an alley running parallel to 41st Street, opposite a parking lot, but it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to get a fresh-made sandwich in your hands piled with pastrami, corned beef or smoked turkey.
The shoebox of a place is very clean, with black-and-white tile floors and a small counter where you order. Most business is take-out but there are a few stools at a window counter.
Besides sandwiches there are a quinoa salad with tomato, cucumber, carrot, corn and avocado with vinaigrette dressing, and a chopped salad with tomato, bell pepper, onion, parsley, lemon mint and a dressing with za’atar. There are also all-beef hotdogs served on baguettes with sauerkraut.
Owner Michelle Green is from Paris but her parents are Tunisian. She has never been to North Africa but grew up eating couscous as well as Italian food. Many Jewish traders and professionals came to Tunisia in the early 1900s from Liguria and Tuscany, and Italian food became popular in the Maghreb, where Italian was the lingua franca in the field of commerce.
Green has a degree in fashion design and lived for several years in Tel Aviv, where she fell in love with the cuisine, and then near London, where she and her British husband ran an interior-design company. They moved to Miami Beach 15 years ago with their four daughters for the weather.
They keep kosher at home, and the sandwich shop is also kosher with no meat-and-dairy combos — the “cream cheese” on the Norwegian smoked salmon sandwich is made from Tofutti. All sandwiches come with a pickle and coleslaw.
Try the Texas brisket, rubbed with a secret spice rub and smoked for eight hours until fork-tender and thinly sliced, on rye bread. Brisket comes from the pectoral muscles of cattle and contains a significant amount of connective tissue so must be cooked a long time to tenderize it. The word brisket comes from the Middle English term brusket, which comes from the earlier Old Norse brjosk, meaning cartilage.
For the pulled brisket sandwich the meat is braised for 12 hours, yet it remains juicy. Pastrami is also made from brisket and comes from the Romanian pastrama borrowed from the Turkish bastirma meaning “pressed meat.” The brisket is cured in salt brine, coated in a mix of crushed coriander seeds, black pepper, garlic, paprika, allspice and mustard seeds, then smoked and finally steamed until the connective tissue within the meat melts into gelatin.
Corned beef is also made by brining brisket in “corns” (grains) of rock salt with pickling spices for a week and is served here hot or cold with mustard on a baguette. There’s also a sliced steak sandwich with caramelized onions; roast beef with mustard; roasted shoulder of lamb with rosemary and garlic with chimichurri sauce; and breaded chicken breast with sesame seeds and mayo.
Dark-chocolate mousse is made in-house and topped with cacao nibs. Sometimes, Green bakes cookies.