Sometimes, a pickle can be the bonus of meal, but at Pickles Deli at Bally’s Atlantic City, that’s just the start of the dining experience.
Guests at Pickles are greeted with a surprise bowl of sweet, crispy pickles just to warm up their appetite. Past that, the menu is full of variety and fun, offering options that could satisfy just about everyone.
What we liked: The outdoor dining at Pickles is perfect for people-watching and enjoying the sun. About 15 tables are lined up outside the deli on their “patio,” also known as the fenced-off portion of the Boardwalk in front of the place.
Compared to other Boardwalk-dining restaurants, there are a lot more tables available. Perhaps after being around for more than 30 years, the restaurant realized how much people love good outdoor dining.
The server highly recommended the warm brisket of beef with brisket gravy ($15.95), saying, “If you asked what’s better, the brisket or the roast beef, I’d say the brisket. If you said the roast beef or the cheesesteak, I’d say the brisket.”
The brisket came out on a big, fresh Kaiser roll that held together the heaping pile of meat. The meat was a little on the dry side, but that’s where the delicious, warm gravy came in. With a side of creamy, homemade potato salad, the brisket was a big win, and it was easy to see why the server recommended it.
A surprise on the menu was stuffed cabbage with gravy ($6.50). Wrapped in chewy leaves of cabbage was ground beef and rice. Atop the two large loaves of stuffed cabbage was a tomato-based gravy and raisins. The raisins were a sweet addition to each bite and really made the appetizer worth trying. Since opening for the season in May, the restaurant has run out of the popular appetizer twice, leaving some patrons pretty disappointed. Hopefully they stock up so no one else misses out this summer.
Another hit was the juicy rib-eye steak sandwich ($12.95). As juicy as advertised, the steak took up almost the entire space of an opened Kaiser roll, so it could have been eaten open-faced or cut in half and eaten as a sandwich. The steak had some fatty pieces on its edges, but it wasn’t hard to pull off before eating.
With the rib-eye came a generous portion of french fries. Appearing as shoestring fries, these little bites turned out to be thicker than they looked, with each bite offering a big taste of potato.
Other options on the menu include a potato latkes appetizer ($5.50). Under the item in the menu it says, “Guaranteed crisp, or you RAISE HELL.”
Pickles is also known for their corned beef and pastrami reubens ($15.95, see sidebar) that come with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and served with french fries.
One fun fact about Pickles is you’ll never have to wonder where your server is when you’re looking for a drink refill. A separate server, who called himself the “drinkmaster,” is assigned to keeping your drinks full.
What we didn’t like: There wasn’t much to complain about. Pickles offers indoor and outdoor dining. Apart from the weather and the sea gulls, the only thing that could disappoint you by sitting outside is the soup.
For a safety reason, according to our server, the wait staff can’t bring soup up the steps to the outdoor dining area. Instead, a salad is offered with the half sandwich and cup of soup option ($12.95).
Soups ($4.95) include matzo ball, chicken noodle, mushroom barley and Pickles famous sweet and sour cabbage. But, you’ll have to sit inside to try them.
The greens in the salad were fresh, but not cold. There is a chance the salad warmed up on the long walk through the dining room and up the steps to the Boardwalk, or the lettuce just isn’t kept in a chilled area. Either way, the side salad won’t be a deal breaker for your trip to Pickles.
Insiders tip: When eating at Sammy’s Beach Bar, you’re actually eating the food from Pickles. So keep in mind that your food has to travel through Pickles’ dining room, across the Boardwalk and then into Sammy’s. It might be best to order something you don’t expect to be piping hot.
Despite it being a deli, Pickles also serves alcohol, including sauvignon, chardonnay and white zinfandel wines, as well as beers and Mike’s Hard Lemonades.
Beginning Thursday, July 5, patrons at Pickles Deli will be able to try their luck at tackling The Monstrosity with Mustard. The new food challenge features a sandwich that houses 3.8 pounds of food. All stacked on three slices of Pullman Loaf rye bread, the sandwich holds 1 pound of pastrami, 1 pound of corn beef, 4 ounces of Dijon mustard, 4 ounces of red onion, 12 slices of tomato, 12 leaves of lettuce and 24 thin slices of kosher pickles. If a guest is able to lick their plate clean in 30 minutes or less, their photo will make it to the Pickles wall of fame and they will get a free sandwich of their choice at Pickles every day until Labor Day.