ROANOKE, Va. – A traditional delicatessen is something you don’t find much anymore, but if you take a walk down Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke - you’ll have hit the jackpot! That’s where we find RT Smith’s Delicatessen.
Co-owner, Keith Clinton, says, “When you walk in that door, you are no longer in Roanoke. You are in some part of New York. You get the feel, the smell, the presence of being in a true New York deli.”
He’s from Queens, New York. He and his family have brought a little bit of that taste of home to the Star City, from the pastrami to the rye to the bagels and unsweet tea.
“It’s as dark and as bitter as the heart of every northerner,” says Clinton.
In reference to the cold-cuts unique to RT Smith’s, Clinton says, “We’re trying to keep it as natural and as real as it’s supposed to be.”
When asked about some of the favorites, Clinton jokingly says, “These people go insane for bagels and lox.”
You’ll go insane when you see The Champ. It’s a“16-inch beast of a hero. Salami. It’s got pepperoni. It’s got capicola. It’s got ham. It’s got provolone. It’s got oil and vinegar. It’s got oregano. When you bite into that thing, you’re not here any more. Your head just flies off some place else.”
The advantage to a place like this is that they don’t discriminate on the time of day. We’re told you can get, “Breakfast all day, lunch all day, so you can get a Reuben at 8 o’clock in the morning and a bacon, egg and cheese at 1:45 in the afternoon.”
Ultimately for Clinton, a chef by trade, being on this side of the kitchen has become well worth it.
“It’s just a beautiful thing. Making people happy in a one-on-one basis is more rewarding than making a whole dining room full of people happy without ever getting to see them.”
This is just one of many spots taking part in this year’s ‘Downtown Roanoke Restaurant Week.’ Make sure to click this link for more on that!