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It’s a fight over food that has raged for over a century, and at this point there are few undecideds.
Which is better, pastrami or corned beef? (Vote in our poll below.)
Both are cured and slow-cooked briskets with a rich history among Jewish (pastrami) and Irish (corned beef) immigrants around the turn of the century in New York City and elsewhere in the U.S.
That’s where the similarities pretty much end.
For one, they’re each prepped quite differently, as John Murray of The Hero Joint in Bay Shore explained.
Corned beef is brined in salted pickling juices, while pastrami is rubbed in coriander and pepper, along with some sugar and mustard seed. And corned beef is boiled, while pastrami smoked and steamed, Murray told greaterlongisland.com.
They also each come from different ends of the brisket. Pastrami is fattier.
At The Hero Joint, Murray said he recently started sourcing the pastrami from a now-shuttered iconic New York City deli, which he contractually can’t mention in print.
But, he added, if you come in and ask him or his staff, “they’ll proudly tell you where it’s from.”
He went on to stress this is what makes The Hero Joint unique. The company is not tied to one brand specifically; they can always switch if they find something better. Murray’s pursuit of quality is never ending, he said.
“Pastrami is like the third rail of deli meat,” Murray said. “Over the years we’ve tested various brands of pastrami, and some we got destroyed for over social media and by Yelpers. That’s why last year I set out on a quest to find the best. And I certainly did. Pastrami is an art and these people have perfected that art.”
As for the corned beef, The Hero Joint has always boiled their own in-house and, as Murray says, it’s never mass-produced.
“Our combination of seasoning and pickling spices can’t be beat,” he said. “Then it’s trimmed here and served.”
For corned beef fans, The Hero Joint offers the Original Reuben.
“The bread is better, the meat is better, the cheese is better,” than what you might find at a pub, he said. “But it’s a Rueben, just corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.”
As for the pastrami sandwich, The Hero Joint added the Daverami on Rye to the menu shortly after opening the first Hero Joint location in Patchogue in 2018. (The Hero Joint opened in Bay Shore in 2021.)
“We named it after my friend Dave Rogers, a veteran,” Murray said. “He had been asking for pastrami and we did this as a tribute to him and his service.”
Like at any Kosher deli, this is simply pastrami piled high on rye bread. Murray also recommends the authentic Dusseldorf-brand mustard.
Both the Daverami and the Original Rueben could be ordered NYC-style, with 14 ounces of meat. “That’s for the people who want that Instagram-worthy stack of meat,” he said.
“This is as much as I could physically pile between two pieces of bread. It’s almost a pound’s worth,” Murray said.
We also asked Murray how people vote when it comes to their wallets at The Hero Joint, by way of sales.
“I’m not saying this to build even more hype, but it’s really 50-50,” he said.
Top: The NYC-style Daveromi at The Hero Joint in Bay Shore. The NYC-style Rueben appears below. (Satin Widrow pictures)
Deal Alert: For the month of March, patrons to The Hero Joint could order up an Original Reuben and get a Guinness to wash it down for $20. Click here for the menu. Click here to order online right now. The Hero Joint in Bay Shore is located at 182 W. Main St. There’s also a location in Patchogue at 74B E. Main St., behind Kilwins. The St. Patrick’s Day deal is being offered at both locations.