Petra Restaurant & Times Square Deli Mart – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Petra Restaurant and Times Square Deli Mart in Albuquerque

As the clock approaches midnight every year on December 31st, the eyes of the world are focused on a single geodesic sphere some twelve-feet in diameter and weighing nearly six tons.  Covered with nearly 3,000 Waterford Crystal triangles, that sphere descends slowly down a flagpole at precisely twelve o’clock, signaling the transition to a new year.  The event is witnessed by more than a billion people across the world, including more than one million who crowd the area to bid a collective adieu to the year just completed and to express hope and joy for the upcoming year.  This event takes place in Midtown Manhattan’s fabled Times Square, oft called the “crossroads of the world.” 

Contrast the bustling energy and modernity of Time Square with the sedate tranquility of the ancient city of Petra in the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan. Inhabited from 312 BC through the 1980s, Petra, a vast, unique city, carved into sheer red rock face, is most often spoken of in historical terms and indeed, much history has transpired in Petra. Petra served as a center of trade between Arabia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean though today it is more often recognized for its cameo role in major movie productions such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen than for being a United Nations World Heritage Site.

The capacious dining room

You might not know it, but in Suite C on the southwest intersection of Central Avenue and Yale Boulevard in Albuquerque, Times Square converges with Petra. No, not in the fashion of some bizarre inter-dimensional Twilight Zone or X-Files plot twist. This convergence is in the merger of restaurant concepts. The Times Square Deli Mart, a combination deli and convenience store which has operated in Albuquerque since 2007, was acquired by a delightful Palestinian family who added a Middle Eastern menu to an already bustling deli and sandwich menu. The deli portion of the complex is on the northwest corner of the capacious store, but the aroma emanating from that corner permeates its every square inch…and it’s a great aroma, the melding of spices, meats and cheeses. It’s an aroma familiar to anyone who’s lived on the east coast. It’s the aroma of a New York City deli.

Step through the front door and you’ll cast a quick glance at aisles of convenience goods, refrigerators stocked with assorted libations and behind a long counter, racks of cigarettes, but with the draw of a siren’s sweet song, you’ll be lured toward the deli area where the aforementioned meats and cheeses are lined up behind a deli case. Above the deli case is a menu listing sandwiches constructed from those meats and cheeses. It’s a carnivore and turophile paradise. Alas, during our inaugural visit since the ownership transition, my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver and I were easy prey for an enthusiastic counterman hawking the daily special, a gyros sandwich served with a side salad and fries (at a ridiculously low price).

Gyros with French Fries and Salad

Nestled within the cozy confines of a warm pita bread are slices of the lamb-beef amalgam shaved thinly from a cone-shaped spit and served with lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce. Though better gyros can be found a couple of blocks away at Gyros Mediterranean, for the daily special price, this was a filling and mostly satisfying sandwich. Rather than more meat, however, our preference would have been for meat with more juiciness (meat on a spit should practically be sweating moistness). If the accompanying salad (lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, pepperoncini) has any dressing, it’s applied so lightly that we couldn’t discern it. Fortunately a generous sprinkling of feta and the squeeze of two pepperoncini onto the salad made up for no or weak dressing. The fries are strictly out-of-a-bag quality.

The same smooth-talking counterman who sold us on the gyros told us the restaurant’s most popular sandwich is the Philly Cheesesteak about which he gushed effusively. Available in six- and ten-inch sizes, this Philly features thinly sliced roast beef grilled in butter sauce with seasoned and sautéed onions and green peppers under a blanket of melted American cheese. While good, it made us long for the melodic percussion of Steve Garcia chopping meat, onions, green peppers and green chile on the grill at Philly’s N Fries. That’s Albuquerque’s very best Philly and it’s probably unfair to compare it with any other. Similar to the gyros, the roast beef lacked juiciness nor did it acquire any from the sautéed onions and peppers. A different cheese would also have improved the sandwich; the melted American cheese resembled that processed cheese used on nachos served in ballparks.

Philly Cheesesteak

The menu lists a phalanx of New York style specialty sandwiches, cold sandwiches, subs and even vegetarian sandwiches as well as a Lobo Burger special. NYC deli cold cuts (roast beef, oven-roasted turkey, pastrami, corned beef and six others) are available to take home by the half-pound as is cheese (American, Swiss, Provolone, Muenster, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack). Desserts include NYC Italian cannolis, homemade rice pudding, NYC cheesecake, homemade baklava and homemade cookies. A breakfast menu includes a long-time Albuquerque favorite called the “Twin Towers,” double egg, double bacon, double sausage, double ham, double cheese, (can you say double bypass) onions and peppers on a ten-inch toasted sub roll.

The Petra Restaurant & Times Square Deli Mart may be as close to New York City as most of us get a chance to frequent. That’s reason enough to visit. So are the dozens of sandwich options and now, Middle Eastern deliciousness.

Petra Restaurant & Times Square Deli Mart
2132 Central Avenue, S.E., Suite C
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 242-0809
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT:
10 August 2016
1st VISIT:
8 November 2008
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 16
COST: $
BEST BET:  

Times Square Deli Mart Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats

The sense of smell, more than any of our other senses, influences our ability to recall past events and experience. From among the five senses, fragrance is considered the most potent medium for conjuring up memories. True enough, some of the most enduring sensory memories of my years in the Boston area are reawakened thanks to the amazing aromas that greet me each time I visit Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats on San Mateo. It is with increased rarity that you find an authentic Italian deli which greets you at the door with the incomparable aroma of pastas, meatballs or sausages simmering in a perfect marriage of tomato sauce, garlic, basil and oregano.  It’s also rare to find an Italian kitchen equally practiced at preparing outstanding pasta dishes and Italian meats.

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats is then indeed an anachronism because it does capture you before the door with wafting odoriferous emanations that bid you welcome and which have a Pavlovian effect on your taste buds.  The Camuglia family–John, Jerry and Johnny–has owned and operated this memory triggering deli since 1970, in the process creating new and wonderful memories for the legions of patrons who frequent their deli.

Tully’s “dining room”

Tully’s is ensconced in a time-worn strip mall on San Mateo, but could easily pass for an Italian deli in Soprano country, upstate New Jersey or my former home outside of Boston.  Shelves are stocked with large and small cans and jars of various Italian groceries as well as domestic and imported olive oils and specialty pastas.  Prominent on those shelves are jars of Tully’s house-made marinara sauces, source of those oh-so-enticing memory enticing aromas.

A freezer showcases some of Tully’s frozen entrees such as meatballs, chicken marsala, chicken parmesan, chicken picatta and some of the city’s very best lasagna. The freezer also displays such tantalizing treasures as veal, lamb and even rabbit. It’s hard to believe that when the Camuglias assumed ownership of Tully’s, it was solely a meat market.  In its annual food and wine issue for 2011, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Tully’s a “Hot Plate Award” as the “Hot Take Home” deli Albuquerque can’t live without.

The Italian Sausage Sub

The Italian Sausage Sub

In the spirit and tradition of many East Coast Italian delis, Tully’s also features imported and domestic meats and cheeses, showcasing Boar’s Head brand products.  Boar’s Head prides itself in artisanal meats and cheeses produced in time-honored old-world methods.  Tully’s honors those methods by making their own hot and sweet Italian sausages, all ground from 100-percent pork enhanced with traditional spices and herbs.  Sausages range from the simple to the sublime–real gourmet sausages that will enhance any meal.

Tully’s take-out business is robust and the heart of the operation, but many savvy patrons also have a filling and delicious lunch at their favorite deli before heading home with their treasures.  At the counter, they encounter a menu which just might be the envy of every sandwich shop in town, a menu featuring an array of sensational sandwiches, some named for glitterati of Italian heritage.  Who can refuse an Al Pacino (capocollo ham, Genoa salami, provolone and Italian dressing) or a Sinatra, sure to hit the right note with imported Parma prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, lettuce and tomato on a homemade roll?

Meat Ball Subs

There are eighteen sandwiches on the menu, more than half of which are available at half-sub size.  The subs which require heating are generally not available at half-sub size.  Available toppers include sliced black olives, sliced pickles, sliced banana peppers, tapenade, guacamole and bacon.  Sandwiches are about a dollar south of ten dollars and are accompanied by a cup of potato salad or a bag of potato chips.

31 December 2008: While the cold meat sandwiches entice with a siren-like call, my Boston-based beckoning is often for sub sandwiches engorged with tomato sauce and seasoning adorned meatballs or sausage, the type of sub of which I consumed by the boatload in Boston. The Italian Sausage Sub and the Meat Ball Sub call loudest.  The Sausage Sub features homemade Italian sausage “cooked in mom’s marinara sauce with melted mozzarella on a homemade roll.”  This is a humongous sandwich, easily big enough for two to share (not that you’d want to).  It’s also a messy sandwich which will redden your fingers and drip onto your clothing if you’re not careful.  Ditto for the Meat Ball Sub, six homemade meatballs nestled in a homemade sandwich roll and slathered with marinara sauce with melted mozzarella.  The meat balls are an amalgam of beef and pork with just enough filler to bind them.  They’re seasoned with garlic and oregano in just the right amount.

The Sicilian (For All You Good Sicilian Boys): Mortadella, Capocolla Ham, Domestic Prosciutto, Provolone and Italian Dressing on a homemade roll

31 December 2008: When the menu at an Italian deli reads “sausage,” you don’t always know what to expect.  In some cases, a sausage sandwich features sliced links and in others, the sausage is ground almost like hamburger.  At Tully’s, the sausage (at least on the sub) is reminiscent of breaded chicken Parmesan.  It’s semi-flat and lightly breaded, but beneath that breading and under that marinara is a well-seasoned sausage that’s flavorful, filling and fabulous.  The potato salad is flecked with red peppers and pickles and isn’t dripping in salad cream as some potato salad seems to be.  Alas, cup-size amounts to about three or four spoons full.  You’ll want more.

13 October 2012: From among the cold subs listed on both the “house specialties” and “traditional favorites” sections of the menu, one of the best is The Sicilian (for all you good Sicilian Boys).  That, by the way, is a Tully’s caption.  All sandwiches have clever captions.  The Sicilian is made with mortadella (an Italian cured sausage seasoned with pepper and garlic), capacolla ham (a pork-derived cured ham), domestic prosciutto, provolone and Italian dressing on a homemade roll.  The Italian dressing is applied generously, rendering the sandwich moist on a bread roll which absorbs it well.

The “Joe DiMaggio”

23 September 2015: In Simon & Garfunkle’s 1968 number one hit Mrs Robinson, the American folk rock duo asked the puissant question “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”  The lyrics both perplexed and bothered The Yankee Clipper until a chance meeting with Paul Simon.  Simon explained the lyrics were sincerely intended as flattery and essentially were intended to ask “where have all the heroes gone.”  A better answer to the question might be “Joe DiMaggio is alive, well and delicious at Tully’s.” 

The Joe DiMaggio is an Italian sub described by my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, as “the absolute best Italian Sub I have ever had.”  A spry septuagenarian with the youthful vigor of a twenty-something, Larry knows a thing or a million about subs.  So do I.  This is an outstanding mountain of a sandwich (pastrami, ham, Genoa salami, Provolone, black olives, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing stacked on a whole or half sub roll).  The designer of this delicious deli sandwich deserves a raise.  It’s not enough that the Joe DiMaggio is packed with ingredients.  Those ingredients go together as well as milk and cookies or chocolate and…chocolate.

31 December 2008: On lazy days when you don’t want to cook or perhaps when you want to spoil yourself, let pasta pamper you.  Pick up a lasagna from Tully’s freezer.  It’s layers and layers of pasta sandwiching pork and beef all slathered with marinara sauce and topped with two melted cheeses and several complementary spices.  This is lasagna the way it’s made in some Boston area restaurants, those specializing in red meat sauces.  It’s lasagna which imbues your kitchen with those memory inducing aromas you’ll treasure. 

There are few things in life more satisfying than a sandwich at Tully’s, but it’s possible to improve on your Tully’s experience by walking a few feet south to Saratori’s Di Tully, an Italian pastry shop that will remind East Coast transplants of Italian pastry shops in New York.

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats
1425-A San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 255-5370
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 23 September 2015
# OF VISITS: 8
RATING: 22
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Lasagna, Sausage Sub, Potato Salad, The Sicilian, Meat Ball Sub, The Joe DiMaggio

Tully's Italian Deli & Meats on Urbanspoon

Deli Mart West – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The Deli Mart, a feast for the senses!

The Deli Mart, a feast for the senses is much missed!

The human capacity for developing attachments can be a bit of a conundrum. Although my very being is eternally rooted in New Mexico, returning to America in 1987 after three years in England made me feel as if I had left my home behind.

Similarly after two years in Massachusetts, I returned in 1979 to my beloved New Mexico with a huge hole in my heart, pining for so many things about my first home as an adult.

Shelves stocked with wonderful products at Deli Mart

Shelves stocked with delightful treasures at Deli Mart

One of the things I missed most about the Bay State was the tremendously creative things that could be generously crammed inside a sub (make that “grinder”) roll. The polished art of crafting a sensational stuffed sandwich had not made its way to the Land of Enchantment.

I commiserated frequently with my great friend, New York native Adelchi Parisella who also longed for the incomparable sandwiches uniquely fashioned in the East Coast. Fortunately in 1980, we discovered Deli Mart, a New York style deli and market on Juan Tabo just north of Menaul.

The lingering aroma of fine deli meats and cheeses was so familiar, our olfactory senses went into overdrive trying to ingest them all. The well-stocked shelves offered culinary treasures to please chefs of all skill levels and the menu was replete with sandwiches with which we had both been intimate.

Muffalatta sans bread

A classic Italian sandwich with housemade mozzarella

Best of all, Deli Mart served a more than passable pastrami sandwich, albeit not as generously endowed as those I came to love on the East Coast and (gasp) served with lettuce and mayo.

The Juan Tabo store closed in the early 1990s, but Kim and I were fortunate enough to build a home in Albuquerque’s West side, a scant mile or so from the Alameda West Shopping Center home of the city’s second Deli Mart.

Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soup

The menu features than 20 appetite sating sandwiches as well as several hot entrees such as lasagna, pasta fazool, baked ziti and manicotti. Fromage fanatics can feast on more than 60 cheeses from all over the world as well as on a fine selection of imported meats, olives, pastas, olive oils and such domestic favorites as potato salad and macaroni salad. If you’re craving cannolis or Italian pastries, Deli Mart has those, too.

I have both words of praise and condemnation for the lasagna–praise because it has all the elements shared by the best lasagna: wide strips of Barilla pasta layered with rich, creamy ricotta; savory homemade marinara and, since you can’t have enough cheese, a velvety mozzarella and Romano cheese.

Baked ziti

Baked ziti

My complaint is that the first time we had it, we were told to heat a take-out order of lasagna for six minutes when four minutes would have been enough. Remarkably even though the pasta and sauce desiccated on the edges, it was still some of the best lasagna we’ve had in the Land of Enchantment (as much a compliment to Deli Mart as an indictment of Italian food in New Mexico).

Deli Mart also serves hearty, wholesome soup, the type you might see a picture of if you look up the term “comfort food.” One of the most popular is wedding soup replete with hand-rolled meatballs, orzo and spinach in a chicken broth. Maybe even better is the cream of broccoli soup which will warm the cockles of your heart and goes down oh so smoothly.

Eight- and twelve-inch sandwiches are probably the most popular take-out or dine-in items. New Orleans transplants might consider it sacrilege to see a muffaletta prepared on a sub roll instead of the traditional round muffaletta bread and would probably have a coronary to see Deli Mart substitute the olive spread with relish and Italian dressing, but I’ve had a couple of them and certify them as more than passable. Adkins Diet proponents can even have their muffaletta sans bread (pictured above).

More than 25 years have now elapsed since I lived in Massachusetts, but frequent visits to Deli Mart trigger memory inducing experiences that take me back to my youth and my introduction to sandwich nirvana.

Deli Mart West
10131 Coors, N.W.
Albuquerque, NM
LATEST VISIT: 13 August 2007
# OF VISITS: 9
RATING: 21
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pasta Fazool, Muffaletta, Pastrami Sub, Cannoli