The Roast Beef Battle

Review of John’s Famous Deli of Staten Island, NY vs. Fiore’s House of Quality of Hoboken, NJ

By Chef Vincent Tropepe

Instagram: cheftropepe

I am hoping that this article doe not evolve into a real battle by any means.  Both John’s Famous Deli of Staten Island, New York and Fiore’s House of Quality in Hoboken, New Jersey have a rich history in the Italian market and deli space, which I will articulate further in the article, but what makes them reallythe same? They both claim that their signature sandwich – the sandwhcih that people flock there for is the Roast Beef & Muz (as in mozzarella) with gravy.

Now I am not looking for this article to turn into the great debate and question that I have been asked a million times about Marinara Sauce “Is it sauce or Is it gravy?”, but I did think that it would be fun to objectively look at both while expressing my admiration for both and what they offer to diners who love no nonsense Italian food.

In 1968 John’s Deli opened up on 86thStreet and Stillwell Avenue in my hometown of Brooklyn, New York with serving delicious Italian specalities at a great price the public responded very favoirtably to John’s Deli. John’s Deli then expanded it’s business to Staten Island that serves the sandwich

johnsdelistatenislandthat is the main subject of this article.  I have eaten from John’s Deli more times then I can count and for those of you who are not beef eaters their Eggplant Parmesan and Pinnelle Special is the best I
ever tasted hands down.

The deli was originally started by the Fiore Family in 1903, when a loaf of bread cost you a nickel. YES, a nickel. Back in those days, it served as a place for patrons to buy their weekly cold cuts; they didn’t start serving sandwiches until way later.

John Amato Sr. {the current owner} started working there in the mid-60s as a delivery boy, and now he and his son, John Jr. make the mutz and run the shop. The Amato Family has been running things for the last few years nearly six  decades. Nothing has changed much since their start, and despite the many changes in town, Fiore’s is still one of the most popular delis in Hoboken and is a staple in Hoboken.

 So here’s what we have all been waiting for the review.  As I mentioned John’s Famous Deli is a fantastic place.  The Roast Beef and Mutz sandwich has many qualities that make it a notable addition to their menu.  The roast beef was cut paper thin which gave the sandwich an absolutely beautiful mouth feel, the bread was absolutely delicious a crispy crust and soft on the inside and the sauce had this rich 

IMG-9206quality to it and was tasty.  It had this dye and ink like quality to it that stained the bread and the roast beef. Where the biggest difference is between the two sandwiches are the two key ingredients, the roast beef at John’s Famous Deli it is cooked completely, no redness at all and the mozzarella cheese is substancially more firm that Fiore’s.

 Fiore’s Roast Beef and Mutz, cooks their roast beef to a perfect medium the meat is red but absolutely no blood. The mozzarella is very soft and the gravy is the actually that- the gravy from the roast, there is no special recipe like at John’s Famous Deli.  The color from the gravy is an immediate difference, Fiore’s is brown and John’s Famous is nothing less then black.

Both sandwiches have great qualities, and both establishments steeped in Italian culture and the communities they serve have a lot to offer their patrons, but as far as this Roast Beef battle is concerned Fiore’s House of Quality without a doubt makes a far superior Roast Beef and Mutz sandwich.  However, I do encourage readers to go to both places and try for yourself.



John’s Famous Deli 173 New Dorp Lane Staten Island, NY 10306

Fire’s House of Quality 414 Adams Street Hoboken, NJ 07030


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