If there was ever a place that belonged on some kind of Food Network or Travel Channel show in this area, it would be Taliercio’s Ultimate Gourmet in Red Bank. Part deli, part restaurant, part Italian market, there are just too many decisions to be made the moment you walk in the door. I admit, I cheated—I looked at the menu online before I went in because I was told of the array of sandwiches available. Had I not done this, I would have been there forever looking at the options. There is blackboard after blackboard full of all manner of sandwich specials. From the mainstay Italian hero, to a selection of gourmet grilled cheeses, to chicken cutlets, cold cuts, and almost anything else you can think of. The names of the sandwiches are interesting: John Wayne, Yogi Berra, and Mel Brooks are just a few. This makes you really have to read the menu because they don’t give anything away with their sandwich titles.
As you ponder what you want to order, the counter full of meats, cheeses, and prepared foods stares you down like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s like your world is going to change. Hell, they even have a section of specialty egg rolls filled with shrimp or chicken parm, pulled pork, and their take on the Sloppy Joe. Who else does that? Then there are the pastas and sauces, and of course, the desserts and cookies. But what to order for lunch?
Call me boring—overwhelmed and boring—but I went with the “John Wayne” panini. He’s one of my favorite actors and with me taken aback with so many good choices, I figured that should be the thing to do. This was as perfect a panini as you could ask for. Paper-thin bread grilled to a crisp, somehow, as if by magic, being able to support what seemed like a half a pound of mesquite turkey, horseradish cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions, and bistro pub sauce. It seemed illogical that such bread could hold all of this without falling apart, but it did. When they called me over for my order and I grabbed the plate, my wrist dropped a few inches because I was not expecting the weight of this sandwich.
It is my mom who wanted to take me here. She had been here a couple of times with my dad before his passing in June. They both loved the food. I remember my dad coming home with leftovers and telling me, “You gotta see those sandwiches”. Well, here I am, and impressed. She went with the “Petey C”, which consisted of prosciutto, fried eggplant, provolone, roasted red peppers, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. She loved it, as did I. The sandwich was piled high. A jaw-splitting amount of meat and eggplant. The price for hers was $7.95 while mine was $6.95. An ungodly amount of food for a microscopic price. It almost seemed too good to be true.
My meal was washed down with a Manhattan Special espresso soda, with a bag of chips on the side. Our very own Hunter Dillon would be proud. On the way out, I grabbed a package of Italian cookies and also two shrimp parm egg rolls to be heated up later. They were devoured without pause before dinner that night. I think there are still some cookies left.
Taliercio’s leaves me with pretty much no choice but to award them with a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is rare that I ever go above 4 on a first-visit, but everything just seemed right to me. I couldn’t find anything wrong. And for a deli, such a rating is basically the highest honor. The food quality and bang for your buck were both superb. The selection is mind-boggling. There are a lot of Italian delis and markets in the area, but this is my favorite of the lot. The workers are more than friendly—I overheard one telling someone, “I treat everyone like my brother. Anyone who comes in here is family”. That sentiment shows in the products they put out. Taliercio’s gets the Eating New Jersey stamp of approval. Do yourself a favor and check this place out.
Taliercio’s Ultimate Gourmet is located at 544 State Route 35 in Red Bank, New Jersey.