We sent two CTbites contributors to the new Rye Ridge Deli in Westport. Here's the scoop...
When Oscar’s Deli announced it was closing in July 2016, Westporters were saddened to lose what felt like the last vestige of the “small town” local businesses on Main Street. For 42 years, Oscar’s was known as the community meeting place for locals, families and aspiring politicians, all presided over by its owner, the late Lee Papageorge , who many a day watched the comings and goings from his iconic barber chair.
Many of us waited to hear what would replace the popular spot, and there was a collective sigh of relief when it was announced that Rye Ridge Deli, based in Rye, NY with locations in Rye and Stamford would take over the spot.
Our recent visit to Rye Ridge brought a combination of nostalgic memories upon seeing the original mural still intact along the inside wall ( can you spot a young bearded Lee Papageorge in deli apron?), seeing some familiar faces of prior Oscars employees, and excitement at the bright interior, colorful posters, cases full of deli items, cookies and other goodies. The extensive menu, combined not only New York deli classics, but also diner favorites and features a whole section of Oscar’s Super Specials…overstuffed sandwiches that were the cornerstone of the original Oscars menu.
As we were seated, a generous bowl of pickles immediately appeared on our table and we smiled with satisfaction as we bit into the garlic dill and half sour selection.
"How cool! This feels like a New York style Deli". That was our initial impression as we settled into the newest location of Rye Ridge Deli - a wonderful addition to downtown Westport. It has the makings of becoming a neighborhood favorite, perfect for weary shoppers eager to take a break and enjoy a quick and tasty bite with friends and family.
With a fresher and more updated look than their businesses in Rye and Stamford, partners Scott and Mike bring a slightly more tailored down version of their rather extensive menus in the other two locations. We say "slightly" tailored because it is still 4 pages long! But Scott reassured me that in many cases it is the same common ingredients showing up in different forms on the menu. In any case, the menu is a crowd-pleaser designed to offer something for everyone. Soups? Check! Salads? Check! Sandwiches? Check! Appetizers? Check! Vegetarian items? Check! Sweet treats? CHECK! …. You name it and they have it!
The most popular menu items at Rye Ridge Deli are classics like corned beef, pastrami, fresh roasted turkey and smoked salmon. Scott told me that their Corned Beef is actually made in-house. The pastrami on rye made us ooh and aah with pure joy. The incredibly tender and juicy pastrami was a thing of beauty. The Oscar’s House Special will most certainly put a smile on your face! And why not?! There is so much to love about this classic open faced toasted bagel sandwich with cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, onion, capers, kalamata olives and lemon wedges. The New York style Deli theme is evident in menu choices right down to the delightful pickles that arrive at your table. This, dear friends, is the “real deal”!
Scott told us that as soon as they arrived in Westport, it was clear to him just how much Westporters loved Oscar’s (now closed) and its owner Lee. He said he has heard many lovely stories about Lee from neighbors who stop by to say hello. So they are making as special effort to pay homage to a Westport legend. You won’t miss the menu items that are straight out of Oscar’s menu. Scott is even thinking of framing the Oscar’s menu and putting it up in the restaurant. You are also sure to see some familiar faces in the staff.
-Fairfield County Foodie