A sure sign that a place has aspirations of being a "real deli" is that the prices seem steep, a coupla bucks more than you expect, like sandwiches priced at $6 and up. You begin to wonder, what's a five-spot, chopped liver?
It's much harder to find a sandwich as big as its price, where aspirations match achievement.
A month ago, disappointed by the standardized fern bar version, I began the Great Nibbler Search for a Real Corned Beef Sandwich. I feared that the big juicy corned beef on rye, the sandwich that ate Brooklyn (and vice versa), was as mythical as the Loch Ness monster.
Maybe for me, but a number of faithful readers reported sighting monster sandwiches in North Pinellas.
And now I have seen for myself. It's true: the corned beef sandwich at the Lucky Dill (35236 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor; 789-5574) is a true behemoth, sandwich enough for two lusty trencherpeople. The accompanying photo is accurate. The one served me was the same size, as was every sandwich leaving the kitchen at the Lucky Dill.
There is a bit of artful sandwich making here _ slices are overlapped so they stack higher in the middle _ but nothing dodgy about the two inches of meat with pickle and cole slaw or potato salad for $5.95. You shouldn't eat it single-handed; share with a friend or take half home and make two lunches.
Lucky Dill itself isn't big physically, but the menu is still long on traditional favorites from an authentic deli case: knishes, latkes and blintzes, as well as Hebrew National franks and knocks with kraut, tongue, brisket, pastrami, lox, whitefish, chubs, sable and Dr. Brown's soda.
So there's no matzoh ball soup or big turkey leg dinner plates. If the sandwiches and cold cut platters here don't fill you up, well, I don't want to think about it.
Tampa Bay bouillabaisse
New on the beaches: Tucson's, the mid-Pinellas fajitery has opened with a blaze of neon in an old Brown Derby (6000 Gulf Blvd., St. Petersburg Beach, 367-9844) with the same menu and format as the first in the Rubin-ICOT Center (13563 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater; 530-0637).
A new menu may be cooking in the Barnett Tower in downtown St. Petersburg. Bankers and several restaurateurs are eying the space initially done up in Egyptian dress for Peter's Place, which closed last year.
One more taste of Chicago pizza, this one from Uno, the little pizzeria that took the deep-dish show on the road to 100 other cities and now Tampa (2702 N Dale Mabry Highway; 870-3112). The Chicago-style pie Uno has made since 1943 comes with traditional or contemporary topping/fillings (chicken fajita and seafood, spinach, broccoli, artichoke and caramelized onions etc.). Also on the menu: pasta entrees, sandwiches and thin crust gourmet pizzas from _ horrors _ California.