The Morning After with Stalzy’s Deli

Posted by  on Jun 23, 2012

This past Thursday Vom Fass had their Summer Indulgence event at the Madison Club featuring the cities top eight mixologist using Vom Fass vinegars and liquors as part their creations. One cocktail for each mixologist meant eight cocktails per attendee -and no one was discouraged from getting a second. On top of that, the night never ends early with this cast of characters so of course after the event concluded the group trickled out of the club and down the street to Merchant and Maduro for more libations. Everything after this is a blur. And hence the “Morning After”!  This article isn’t about the great, hand-crafted cocktails that evening, nor is it about the where to go for some great late-night drinks. What it is about is how to cure what ails you the next morning, and in this caseStalzy’s Deli was the remedy.


Stalzy’s has been open a little over two years in the Atwood neighborhood. It’s the closest thing Madison has to a Jewish or New York deli. Chef Neil Starboerger has cooked in some of Madison’s best kitchens and it shows. I know sandwiches and breakfast isn’t the most technique driven fare you’ll find, but the quality and finishing touches in Stalzy’s menu shows. The breakfast menu was loaded eggy goodness with a thick cut Challah french toast and Wisconsin maple syrup. The Steve-O Breakfast Sandwich entails bacon, bologna, american cheese, two fried eggs, potato pancakes & mayo on toasted white bread. There’s also the appropriately named, Breakfast Sandwich with bacon, ham or bologna and egg on grilled white. However, we chose the Brooklyn Breakfast for one simple reason- Pastrami! Pastrami, swiss cheese, fried egg, spicy brown mustard, on grilled rye. This sammy provided my four food group requirements for a hangover breakfast. Spice, fat, crunch, and salt. All attained! Seriously, this is some of the best pastrami I have ever had. Smoked in-house, available also to be ordered by the pound and taken home, get your hands on this.

The next breakfast item was a corned beef hash with corned beef, potato, onion and green peppers topped with two eggs. The hash is a good rustic hash, very coarsely chopped with a good amount of corned beef and green peppers. Too often hashes are all potato and that’s not the case here. I personally lean toward the hashes that are ground fine and seared on a flat top, but the salty, spicy pastrami goodness and runny egg working its way thru the potatoes to the bottom of this huge bowl was awesome.


Way to often bailys get hard way to quick, that isn’t the case with our next dish. This baily was soft and tender and perfect when paired with a slightly smoked salmon, cream cheese, and tomato.


Three breakfast items would be enough for most normal people. I am not a normal person …..So the Corso was ordered! Ham, salami, smoked gouda, lettuce, onion and tomato with parsley oil. The parsley oil is very simple but when paired with all that meat it kept ya diving back in for more. Also on the lunch menu is The Bronx Burger which is their house burger with the same killer pastrami, swiss cheese, organic fried egg & brown mustard on a house-baked burger bun and chips. There is a perception around town that Stalzy’s is overpriced. Yes some sandwiches are 9$. Heres the deal, the bread is homemade, the meat is house cured. This doesn’t get done for free. Way to many delis like Carnegie and Stage in New York have gone overboard with their pound-o’-meat sized portions. That’s not necessary, that’s not Stalzy’s. Would people feel better if the sandwich was 7$ and the place was closed in a year, probably not. If your totally price driven they have the best, 5$ bloody mary around, this is a value. All in all, Stalzy’s was a great experience. Grab a seat at the counter, get a Dr. Brown’s soda and order breakfast or a sandwich whether its “the morning after” for you or not. It is the best pastrami I’ve had in town, a good local business, and great addition to the Atwood neighborhood!

Best of 2011: Tempest, Ichiban and Stalzy’s stars of restaurant scene

Best meat-lovers’ paradise:

Stalzy’s Deli

2701 Atwood Ave.

The smoker is the star at Stalzy’s Deli, a reflection of a New York deli on Madison’s near east side. Turkey, ham, pastrami and brisket dominate the menu, alongside housemade beet salad, ’kraut and coleslaw. We’ll be back for bialys, smoked sausage and challah, and we still love the Corso special: ham, smoked gouda, salami and toppings, with a shmear of parsley oil. We’re looking forward to stopping by in the morning, too, as Stalzy’s recently started serving breakfast.


Our favorite Madison foods of 2011


With a boat in the building, a terrific-looking bar and Middleneck Cherrystones, Tempest Oyster Bar made a grand opening statement; with whitefish cakes with green onions, celery, red peppers, cooked capers and watercress over dill cream sauce they sealed the relationship.Stalzy’s Delicatessen set a new standard for Madison reubens with its exacting, nearly prim orchestration of Russian-style dressing, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, buttered rye bread, and choice peppered pastrami.Merchant went for the trifecta of grocery, restaurant, and destination bar and made it work; nibbling on 2-year-old aged cheddar melted into lavender honey-soaked bread while enjoying DJ Nick Nice and a glass of pinot blanc up at the bar is hard to beat.

Thanksgiving with the pros: Local chefs share their holiday traditions

From left, Megan Belle from Harvest, Mohammad Hinnawi from The Nile, Neil Stalboerger from Stalzy’s Deli, Brewer Stouffer from Roman Candle, Joshua Pleasnick from the Green Owl, Judy James from Stalzy’s Deli and John Jerabek from Fresco.

Year round, Chef John Jerabek prepares fresh, seasonal food at Fresco, his high-end restaurant atop the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

But at his parents’ home on Thanksgiving, Jerabek turns the reins over to his mom.

“My mom always does the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy,” Jerabek said. “My grandma will bake all the pies … do a couple of the sides.

“My mom’s a great cook, and my grandma gives me tips.”

This Thursday, Nov. 24, is arguably the biggest food holiday in the United States. It’s a time to eat turkey, see family and watch pro football.

Since chefs spend nearly every day turning out crowd-pleasing dishes, we asked a group of Madison cooks what they make when they’re off the clock.

A traditional table

Brewer Stouffer, co-owner of the local Roman Candle restaurants, is a fearless eater, but on Thanksgiving he goes back to basics.

“I’m very adventurous in many parts of my life, but when it comes to my holiday meals I want it just so,” Stouffer said, calling himself an “utter traditionalist.”

Thanksgiving for his family, some of whom still live in Stouffer’s native Texas, stretches over several days. They go for groceries on Tuesday, and vegetable chopping begins Wednesday night “with a glass of wine or a beer for a couple hours.”

“I love the bird, I love making gravy,” said Stouffer, who is given charge of the turkey and the “starches,” like stuffing. His mother does the baking and his wife makes the vegetable sides.

Though one of his favorite dishes is sweet potatoes spiked with bourbon and topped with pecans, Stouffer puts himself on the side of poultry in the classic “turkey versus sides” debate, dramatized in a New York Times cook-off last fall.

He saves the bones after carving to make a rich stock for soup that changes every year, ranging from turkey noodle to a curried stew.

“I don’t cook a turkey very often, so there’s always that excitement, and that nervous energy,” Stouffer said. “You’ve got to get it right. You have a 14-pound carcass that you want to turn into deliciousness.”

It’s also no surprise that Neil Stalboerger, co-owner of the meat-centric Stalzy’s Deli on Atwood Avenue, is a turkey guy.

“I love turkey … turkey all the way,” he said. “At the deli here, we’re offering whole smoked turkeys. I get them in raw and brine them for 48 hours in a salt and sugar solution. I smoke it for about six hours.

“It’s a little spin on the traditional. Smoking it adds a nice flavor and depth to it.”

For Megan Belle, pastry chef at Harvest, Thanksgiving is a day for her and her husband, fellow chef Ian Stowell, to take a break from the kitchen. Belle brings a pumpkin cheesecake made with goat cheese (“it adds a tang”) but leaves the rest of the meal to mom.

“I like a very traditional Thanksgiving,” she said. But unlike Stouffer and Stalboerger, Belle is “definitely more of a sides person.”

“I love cranberries,” she said. “My mom does a cranberry relish with orange zest and cranberries, not a lot of sugar — she keeps it pretty tart.”

One of Belle’s favorite dishes used to be her mother’s stuffing. But since the secret ingredient is sausage and Belle has become a vegetarian, she doesn’t eat it anymore.

Still, it’s nice for Belle and Stowell to have someone else in charge of cooking.

“It’s the day we don’t have to worry about anything,” Belle said. “For the most part, we get to take the day off.”

Feast like a chef

Joshua Pleasnick, the chef at Madison’s only vegetarian restaurant, the Green Owl, can relate to Belle’s turkey day challenge. He, his wife and his young daughter are all vegan, and his mother is a vegetarian.

As the primary chef for the family meal, in recent years Pleasnick added more and more side dishes to accommodate everyone.

“I started making almost two Thanksgivings at once,” he said. “It just kept getting bigger and bigger … four years ago I had 32 courses. That was a little nuts.”

For those who think a vegan Thanksgiving involves little more than potatoes and squash, Pleasnick’s menu makes a decadent argument for the glory of autumn vegetables.

His current lineup opens with “pass-around” dishes to keep people out of the kitchen while he cooks — a quinoa apple cranberry pear salad, and a roasted butternut squash risotto with fresh sage.

Also on the menu are roasted chestnut and mushroom thyme stuffing, roasted maple and herb butter baby carrots, and a Thai red curry and ginger delicata squash soup with coconut milk.

The meal finishes with pumpkin panna cotta and dark Mexican hot chocolate (made with almond milk) and churros. With so much variety, the seitan “turkey” feels like an afterthought.

Chefs like Pleasnick know that getting many dishes hot on the table at the same time requires preparation and timing. Dawn Theisen, who owns the Kennedy Manor Dining Room and Bar, also draws on her other resource — the restaurant itself.

With 25 to 30 people guests, Theisen calls on her longtime chef, Ben Smejkal, and a few waitstaff for help, and she hosts Thanksgiving at the restaurant itself (when it is closed to the public).

“We have lots of little kids,” Theisen said. “Thanksgiving with that many people is really hard at a house. It’s even kind of hard at a restaurant.

“But the kids can run around, and everyone sits in the bar and watches the game. My family loves it.”

Theisen makes classic dishes like Brussels sprouts with bacon, mashed potatoes, a barley-lentil soup and roasted acorn squash.

For dessert, Theisen makes a pecan pie with Minocqua grade B maple syrup in place of corn syrup.

“It makes such a difference,” she said. “It’s the most delicious pecan pie ever.”

International twists

For some chefs, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to incorporate international dishes into an American holiday. Instead of turkey, The Nile’s chef Mohammad Hinnawi (formerly of Lulu’s) makes maklouba, a traditional Palestinian dish, for Thanksgiving.

Maklouba (Arabic for “upside down”) is a layered rice dish with eggplant, potatoes, cauliflower and chicken. It all goes into a big pot with spices and broth and is served with toasted almonds and pine nuts on top.

Ken Yan, chef at Imperial Garden in Middleton, cooks a turkey, but he serves Chinese hot pot in place of sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.

Hot pot is served in a vessel similar to a fondue pot, powered by electricity or gas. Yan described two kinds, one made with clear soup stock, the other spicy. They’re stocked with seafood, thinly sliced beef, lamb, pork, chicken and more.

The family has a turkey, too, and “we stuff ourselves,” Yan said. “It’s a little bit different than traditional, maybe, but we still celebrate.”

Next door at Garden Asian Market, Yan preps dozens of turkeys for Thanksgiving carry-out.

First, each turkey goes in a marinade (“lemongrass, garlic, spice powders, salt, sugar, vinegar, onion, cooking wine … ingredients I don’t even know them in English”) and rests in a cooler overnight.

The next day, Yan boils the turkey briefly in water with vinegar and honey, to give the skin a golden brown color. The turkeys hang to dry for a few hours with a fan blowing on them (this ensures they roast and crisp in the oven instead of steam) and then the cooks bake them a few at a time.

“We always run out,” Yan said of the turkeys, which cost $30 for a 12-15 pound bird. “It takes so long to cook the big ones … it’s tough for us to do it.”

In addition to grab-and-go turkeys, many restaurants are open on Thanksgiving.

Whether or not they’re cooking the meal or letting mom take over, most local chefs seem to agree that the most important part of Thanksgiving is the people around the table.

“My family doesn’t really get together,” said the Green Owl’s Pleasnick. “We never have time. … Thanksgiving is the time when we can get off work and be a family again.”

Read more:

Comfort Food Experts Apply Here

Dynamic Deli: Corbin Reynolds and Neil Stalboerger

Co-owners, Stalzy’s Deli

The interior is so perfectly put together, Neil Stalboerger (left) says people have asked him if Stalzy’s Deli is a chain. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” he says, puzzled. It’s probably because this five-month-old east side delicatessen has a charmingly cozy look with pockmarked floors, vintage-look chairs and even 1950s greasy-spoon stools found on eBay. But this is no chain—everything is made in-house. Meats are cured, smoked and roasted, brisket is brined, sauerkraut is fermented and potato pancakes pressed.

Amazingly, co-owners Corbin Reynolds and Stalboerger only met two years ago—as next-door neighbors. Reynolds’ background was in hospitality sales and management, so he credits Stalboerger with “the deli vision.”

A Minnesota native, Stalboerger was most recently sous chef at Sardine, was Lombardino’s sous chef and has worked at other area restaurants.

Interestingly, Stalzy’s is making traditional food in a very trendy way: presenting ingredients at their simplest.

“I’ve worked with a lot of different types of food, and we wanted to strip it down. Growing up I made sauerkraut and did pickling and canning with my parents. We prepared everything ourselves, and I wanted to get back to that,” says Stalboerger. “We don’t just put [the product] on bread—we brine the brisket and turkey (and make turkey pastrami and applewood-smoked turkey), and I make the sauerkraut.”

Adds Reynolds: “We romanticized about a time when there was a deli on every corner—people could go to the deli and get what they needed for the day.”




Stalzy’s Deli, an Old School Delight

No matter how you slice it, a delicatessen is all about meat and lots of it: piled-high corned beef, pastrami, roast beef and turkey sandwiches. Stalzy’s doesn’t disappoint.

Stalzy’s Deli brings a little of New York to Atwood
Corned beef and pastrami are really part of my DNA. My mom cooked a corned beef she learned to cook from her mom, in Brooklyn (when Brooklyn was more of a slum than hipster central). And my dad knew his brisket too, though that’s a more complicated story.
Read the full article on the Isthmus

What can you get for $10 at Stalzy’s Delicatessen?
The New York deli is possible to export, as Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles proved long ago. Madison isn’t overrun by NYC deli incursions, but the city is not innocent of them either; both Gotham Bagels and Ella’s Deli nod, in their own ways, to the New York deli. Stalzy’s Deli opened on Mother’s Day with a bid to buff out Madison’s deli deficiencies, not exactly recreating a mythical Tom’s Delicatessen—much of its food is not kosher, for example—but rather drawing on that form as inspiration while pulling from other traditions like Polish cuisine and the American ’50s diner aesthetic.
Read the full article on the A.V. Club Madison

Friends of Stalzy’s are the best dressed
It’s an exciting week at Stalzy’s as we get ready to open. It is also exciting that we reached our first goal of 250 fans. That means we are giving away a tee shirt. The lucky, random winner is….Erica Weishoff. Congratulations Erica, you may pick up your shirt at Stalzy’s any day after Sunday.
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