POSTED ON MARCH 11, 2009:
Longtime lunch fixture a reliable destination for no-nonsense classics
Tried and True. Between slices of potato bread was tuna salad paired with sliced sweet pickles, pesto and a slice of cheddar. We both agreed that it was a satisfying blend of ingredients.
In its 22nd year, Felini's Cookies & Deli continues to draw a formidable lunchtime crowd. Owner Vikki Martinus, her husband Jim and son Seth operate the successful deli, specializing in sweets and sandwiches. It is not affiliated with Felini's downtown; Vikki said the only connection is that the proprietor buys cookie dough from them.
The family affair begins early in the morning, 5am to be exact, when Jim takes the early shift preparing scones and cookies. Seth makes the lunches to order while Vikki ensures that things run smoothly. Although small, it is a solid operation.
It seems customers either take their food to go, or sit, eat and leave quickly. Ordering at the counter is fast-paced. I felt rushed by the staff to make up my mind; and others in line behind me must have been anxious. Of course, this is my own perception; but I still felt compelled to choose quickly and move over for the next customer.
Written on a board behind the counter, the menu is pretty straightforward: sandwiches, soups and salad. All sandwiches ($6/whole, $4.50/half) are made to order and are served with a pickle spear. Sandwich fixings include turkey, ham, roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, salami, liverwurst, bologna, chicken salad, tuna salad and egg salad. An assortment of cheese is available (Swiss, provolone, American, cheddar, jalapeno, Gouda, pimento) and breads, as well, whole wheat, potato, light rye, pumpernickel, marble rye and croissant (for .50 extra).
What drew my attention were the "Off the Grill" sandwiches. Some of these include the classic Reuben, Tuna Melt and BBQ Brisket. I decided to go with the Felini while my friend had the Tuna Melt.
The Felini sandwich contains turkey, provolone, pesto and tomato on marble rye bread. Fresh from the grill, it was piping hot, hence the name. Lightly toasted, the bread was pleasantly crispy. The tomato had been softened by the heat, which I particularly liked; and the pesto was robust without being overwhelming.
The Tuna Melt was especially good. Between slices of potato bread was tuna salad paired with sliced sweet pickles, pesto and a slice of cheddar. We both agreed that it was a satisfying blend of ingredients. My only suggestion would be to allow the cheese a little more time to melt.
I also sampled a few muffins and a blueberry scone. I tried an oatmeal muffin, which was large, fresh and lightly sprinkled with oats. The taste was mellow and sweet, but simple; and the texture was soft. The apple-walnut muffin was moist and more flavorful than the other. Large toasted walnuts adorned the top, with plump raisins and spiced apple bits inside- all in all, a memorable muffin. It complemented my hot cup of Earl Grey tea quite nicely.
The blueberry scone was large and dense, drizzled lightly with a sweet glaze. The dough was laced with plump blueberries, with a taste and texture that reminded me of a sweet biscuit. These baked goods were tasty; but Felini's is famous for its carefully crafted cookies.
All sorts of gourmet cookies are available (.65/each, $7/dozen) including chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, Snickerdoodle, peanut butter, Belgian chocolate and white chocolate almond. Muffins, cinnamon rolls, croissants and scones are $1.65; bagels are $1.25; and breakfast sandwiches are $3.99.
Felini's also prepares box lunches with a whole sandwich, chips, cookie and a fruit cup; they'll cater your next event with finger sandwiches and trays of veggies and dip, fruit, cheese and assorted deli meats.
While Vikki sees new faces every day, she also has a loyal group of regulars who have been coming in since they opened. "We're a neighborhood place," she said.
Felini's Cookies & Deli
3533 S. Harvard
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