I like Magnani's pastrami a lot. It is not that traditional. It is deeply smoked. But it has a nice layer of fat and heated the fat coats the meat and the whole thing is meaty, smoky , fatty deliciousness.
I was picking up a loaf of sliced Acme rye from Saul’s and decided to see how Magnani's compared to Saul’s … my top choice in a pastrami crawl a few years back.
Saul's was not as good as my visit a few years ago where I thought this …
“Sliced warm ... it was beautifully marbled with fat which gave a lovely sheen to the meat. It was velvety and full of wonderful pastrami flavor and spice. Despite being wrapped in lined white butcher’s paper, the fat still managed to produce spots on the paper. Even cold, this was the most flavorful.”
This time it was sold cold. Still … back to back with Magnini’s … Saul’s still wins for good flavor and spice. I recommend asking Saul's if they will slice up some warm pastrami and not the cold stuff.
I bought some sliced rye from Model Bakery, and while quite good, after a few breakfasts, Acme’s rye still wins with more rye flavor and a better texture. Acme’s from Saul’s is still as good as it gets in the Bay Area. This is NOT the same rye Acme sells at the bakery.
Robert mentioned in a post that he liked the corned beef better than the pastrami at Saul’s. So I gave that a try.
I liked it. There wasn’t a speck of fat on the Niman Ranch corned beef, but it had a good texture and flavor and made some nice sandwiches. The Magnani's corned beef was just out and out nasty and had nothing to do with corned beef taste. I couldn’t eat it and fed the rest to the dog next door who is not a … well, chowhound.
Magnani's in addition to making a really nice boiled ham, does make a nice rosemary ham. It is fresh-made with lots of good rosemary in it.
The apricot-stuffed pork pancetta they sell isn’t as good as it sounds … a little dry and not enough apricot flavor, but it was ok. The porcini crusted roast beef had a nice crusty, spicy exterior, but Magnini’s roast beef is just too rare for me.
There are some new contenders in the pastrami field that I haven’t tried yet. Fatted Calf should have some soon if it doesn’t already. There are links below to the pastrami at Wood Tavern and The Refuge.
Just read in Today's Scoop that Dennis Leary of Canteen will be opening a new place in the financial district serving breakfast and lunch and "real-deal Reuben sandwiches on homemade bread."
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA: Glorious Nonstandard Pastrami
The Refuge in San Carlos: REAL Pastrami and more!
Pastrami Taste-off: Niman Ranch vs. David’s vs. Secret Brooklyn brand vs. Boar’s Head vs. Robert’s (in that order)
Berkeley - Magnani sale ... hope they keep the pastrami, bacon and other cold cuts
1475 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
1576 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA