When the city’s only Jewish deli closed in January, the outcry was so loud and feverish you would have thought that Fore Street, Portland’s best-known restaurant, had announced it was going under.
Well, when one door closes, as they say, somewhere a window opens. Full Belly Deli may now be just a fond memory, but here comes the Otherside Delicatessen. Otherside is not a replacement for Full Belly by any means. They are two different animals. But Otherside promises the kind of quality meats, cheeses and other products Portlanders have come to expect from its food establishments.
The business is located in the old Quattrucci’s Variety on Veranda Street, just down the road from Veranda Thai and Veranda Noodle Bar. The proprietor is chef Pete Sueltenfuss, who has worked at numerous kitchens around Portland over the past few years, including Fore Street, Miyake and Grace, where he was executive chef. Sueltenfuss has wanted to open his own place for a few years now. The goal, he says, is to have a place that uses Maine-raised livestock “to provide charcuterie in the truest meaning of the word.” That means not just serving patés and terrines, but cold cuts with none of the usual additives.
Sueltenfuss is custom butchering whole animals at Otherside as well as selling meats from local farms, such as roast beef, cowboy steaks and cut-to-order ribeye from Caldwell Farm in Turner. The case is filled with housemade sausages, smoked turkey from Mainely Poultry, Maine Family Farms pork chops, and Canadian bacon and black forest ham from Valley View in Auburn.
No surprise, then, that the deli has an interesting list of sandwiches, including a pork belly banh mi made with liver mousse, country paté, carrot and cilantro, as well as more typical deli fare such as a hot pastrami served with pickled onion and swiss cheese on rye and a corned beef with kraut and mustard on rye. All sandwiches are $9.
I visited the small deli just before lunchtime but was in the mood for breakfast and was tempted to order one of the breakfast sandwiches for $3.50 – choose your own meat, cheese and style of bun. Other breakfast offerings include a house-cured salmon bagel with cream cheese, capers and red onion for $5.99 and – on Saturdays only – housemade doughnuts.
There are also eight varieties of grinders to choose from, and small ($8) and large ($15) pizzas made to order.
I ignored my longing for breakfast when I saw the sandwich board and chose instead the pork schnitzel, a boneless, breaded pork cutlet paired with a tangy egg-and-caper relish, topped with mustard and served on a bulky roll. The pork was tender, the bread incredibly fresh, and the egg satisfied my craving for early-morning fare.
While I was there, I also bought some smoked turkey, a little Swiss cheese, and short ribs to bring home for later.
Sueltenfuss is keeping a cooler stocked with “take & bake dinners” such as short rib meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and smoked chicken legs with roasted potatoes and sausage gravy. He also stocks beer, wine, milk and other grocery staples if you need to pick something up on the way home.
Sueltenfuss said the neighborhood has been welcoming, which is a good thing because parking can be a little tricky right now with snowbanks taking up a lot of the space where cars would normally go. But finding a spot is doable, and you’ll likely just be in and out since there’s no seating inside.
Otherside is a great addition to the Portland food scene. It’s tough opening a new place in winter, especially this particularly brutal winter. Here’s hoping enough people give this place a try so that it’s still here next year.
WHERE: 164 Veranda St., Portland | 207-761-9650 | facebook.com/Othersidedelimaine
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sundays.
WAIT: 5-10 minutes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No