Maximum Deli

Todd Coleman

At Harold's New York Deli Restaurant in Edison, New Jersey, everything is big: The place is big (300 seats), the crowd is ibig (14,000 people weekly), and the pickle bar is touted as the world's largest. Not only that, the restaurant cures four tons of corned beef and smokes four tons of pastrami a week, all in the service of Harold's biggest jaw-dropper: the triple-decker sandwich. Offered in more than a dozen variations—turkey, corned beef, and tongue on rye; pastrami, Swiss cheese, and salami on rye—it costs $50 and feeds half a dozen people. Roughly five pounds of meat goes on one of these skyscrapers, which are so towering that they have to be held together with ten-inch skewers. Waitresses like Miriam Peralta (pictured here), who has worked at Harold's since it opened, in 1998, are pros at rushing them intact to the tables, where diners sit agog. "That's the method to my madness," says owner Harold Jaffe, a 40-year veteran of the restaurant business who earned his Jewish sandwich chops as general manager at New York City's Carnegie Deli. "After you've been here, when you think of a sandwich, you're gonna think of this sandwich first."