Tucked down a small city lane, with a neighbouring shoe-repair place and a sushi bar, this inconspicuous lunch spot draws inspiration from the classic Italian deli. And it has a lot of charm. Previously a nondescript pho joint, the space has had a complete makeover, turning the small space into a slick, modern eatery with art-deco style curves, wooden swivel stools and a bright neon “deli” sign above the counter.
Chef Brian Narciso (La Luna, The European and Gorski & Jones) heads up the kitchen, smoking trout, curing pickles and preparing salads which fill the deli counter.
The menu, put together by writer and regular New Guernica DJ Nick Jamieson, features six rotating daily salads. When we visited there was trout orecchiette, a salad of enoki mushroom with edamame, cherry-smoked chicken and farro and a zucchini ribbon salad. The sandwiches include a tonkatsu roll (crumbed pork, cheese and coleslaw), a mushroom roll or a Reuben sandwich. There is also house-made tequila-cured salmon and a selection of unusual cheeses (including the only smoked blue cheese in the world, apparently). Dine in or take these home with cured meat, pasta and a bottle of wine. Because it is licensed, Chuckle Deli also offers a small selection of international wines, the owner’s favourite spirits and some beers to have with lunch.