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She Works Hard For The Money

Larry's Lunchbox and Delicatessen

2650 Airport Pulling Road South Naples, FL

There's no denying that America loves its heroes. Who doesn't love Superman flying in to save the day from Lex Luthor and going back to being a mild-mannered reporter, or

Spiderman rescuing Mary Jane Watson from the evil clutches of the Green Goblin or the grand patriotic theatre of Theodore Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War (actually he charged up Kettle Hill, but let's not let the truth get in the way of a good heroic narrative) or even Mr. Smith going to Washington to stand up for the little guy. But you know what America loves even more? The anti-hero. The guy who you initially love to hate, but grow to respect, and then to ultimately love; those also happen to be the guys who bring in the big bucks.

Not the hero we asked for, the anti-hero we need.

Look at the biggest movie franchises. Villains who are bad for the sake of being bad aren't that exciting, but throw in some nuance, a raison d'etre that's more than just bad for being bad but who can make you sympathize for their bad behavior. Our popular culture is riddled with anti-heroes who end up far more popular than the plain ol' good guy. Dirty Harry, Howard Stern, Bugs Bunny to name a few. Hulk Hogan may have gotten all the cheers, but it was Roddy Piper and Macho Man Randy Savage who made Saturday morning pro wrestling must-view.

For some time now, I had heard of the legend of the woman who runs Larry's Lunchbox and Delicatessen; a kosher-style lunch spot that's been in Naples for more than three decades. For those of you who are wondering, kosher-style just means it's got all the classic New York deli classics like pastrami, corned beef, knishes but it doesn't actually adhere to the laws of being kosher (no milk with meat, no pork or shellfish, animals must be killed humanely with the first strike, etc). I had heard that she was a "piece of work" at the dog park. When I explained that the cranky middle-aged server at kosher delis was a tradition, I was met with "Not like this lady." Since I've been craving a good pastrami on rye for some time and wanted to reward myself for working out once this week, I called my blogger buddy Lady Listicle (who has the wonderful Instagram handle @loveswful, grabbed my co-workers and headed out to lunch.

I grew up going to kosher delis in New York. Other than pizza and Chinese, it was the most common out of the house meal. To be honest, I kind of hated those nights out because for most of my formative years, other than picked tomatoes (written about here) and salami, I wasn't that much of a fan. It was during this period that I learned that kosher delis have really terrific fried chicken. But as I and my taste buds aged and enjoyed many meals at the Molly Picon room of the 2nd Avenue Deli with my dearly departed Uncle Stu, I grew to love the experience of the kosher deli. Add to that many late night meals at Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side (home of the famous "Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army) and my kosher deli birthright was achieved.

About three minutes after I took this, there was a 15 person line out the door.

Larry's Lunchbox actually looks more like a small lowkey lunch cafe than the traditional kosher deli. It's very simple with a counter, about ten tables inside and tables outside. Probably the most striking part of the decor, other than photos of her kids at various stages of their adolescence, is a picture comparing the legendary Marci to the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame.

Looks like Godwin' Law was just violated in the decor of Larry's (paraphrased - the longer a conversation goes on the Internet between two people who have never met in real life, the greater the likelihood that Nazis are referenced)!

Due to the rumors of her, shall we say, directness, Lady Listicle (and I, to be honest) were a little concerned about how to approach this woman to order. As mentioned, rumors of her quirks spread far and wide and the last thing I wanted to do was be berated as if I had dropped ice on the floor of my mother's kitchen (the woman hates ice on floors. It's weird). Much like a stray dog, I approached with a calm confidence and ordered a pastrami on rye with fries extra crispy and pickles. Sadly, none of my beloved tomato pickles, but I dare not make that suggestion for fear of being tossed out on my keister.

To say that Marci was a tornado of furious energy wouldn't be nearly as accurate, nor as dynamic as you'd think. She was a constant ball of energy and movement. One thing was clear to me in our brief interaction. She truly loved what she did and was extremely proud of the thirty-seven years serving the community.

About seven minutes later, my pastrami on rye, with real deli mustard (yellow mustard is the devil's serum), extra crispy fries, pickles and a side of cole slaw appeared.

First and foremost, flavor-wise the pastrami was spot on. It was warm, salty, not fatty, savory with just a tiny hint of sweetness. In short, it tasted like the pastrami I had learned to love in those lunches with my uncle. The bread was fresh; tear-away chewy on the outside and soft on the inside and though half-sours are not my favorite pickle, who doesn't like a house-made pickle (unless they are sweet pickles. sweet pickles have no place on this earth).

The fries were crispy as requested and meshed well with my preferred blend of salt and ketchup.

All the while, Marci was running around outside, taking orders as the line grew out the door, making comments, particularly about my choice of hat (which she was very amused by, so if any of you who claim she's a unique brand of rude haven't seen her smile, just dress like Mil Mascaras and watch her lips curl upwards). Again, probably the hardest working business owner I've seen in a very long time, in SWFL or elsewhere.

Ok, here's where things get tricky. Despite me seeing the good in her, I'm still mildly concerned that if I write ANYTHING less than glowing about my experience that Marci will go full Videodrome on me and reach through the computer to slap my hands away from the keyboard, but I have a few notes, none of which are flavor-based.

Both the bread and the pastrami, which were very delicious, were sliced a little differently than I was used to. Not bad, just different. The pastrami was super thin, sorta like deli-ham and the bread was actually a little thicker than I was expecting. Neither of these are bad things, just things that a tiny bit askew from what tasty pastrami on rye I love so much. Again, the woman's been hustling her butt for thirty-seven years so something must be working.

Larry's Lunchbox and Delicatessen is a local treasure chest and Marci is the dubloons inside.

Side note: I would like to publicly apologize to Lady Listitcle who was so kind as to help me photograph. Unfortunately, right after our food came, I was thrust into the black hole of Apple Customer Care and didn't get a chance to properly engage her as a lunch companion. Go follow her instagram at @loveswfl. Some good stuff on there.

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Spot on review - I created the website and all the T-shirts and Coffee mugs which are available for sale at the Airport Rd location. I tell all patrons that there is never a charge for the floor show and it is included with the lunch. I am proud to call the Soup Nazi, my dear friend. Jerry Cibley Webmaster and Creator

Mr. Bites
Mr. Bites
12 באפר׳ 2022
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Thank you for sharing!

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