I've been fascinated by the look of Delmy Deli & Juice Bar for months, its outdated and unkempt diner appearance a paragon of commercial 149th Street. Inside, there's a counter and seven seats, four stools and three seats. It is the kind of place that looks like it was left much the way it once was before the current tenants moved in.
What I've tried of the food, which balances typical Dominican and Puerto Rican grab with baleadas and pupusas in a nod to the neighborhood, is serviceable but nothing special; their ambitions in the kitchen match the decor. But sometimes you just want something simple and filling to eat, not all that special, but comforting all the same.
When it comes to breakfast at Delmy, I stick to the mangu. Often called the national dish of the Dominican Republic, mangu is a mash of boiled plantains with toppings that can include pickled onions, salami, eggs, and fried cheese. My favorite in the borough, for the record, can be found at the deli counter in the Pioneer Supermarket up on Allerton Avenue. But if you can't make it uptown, Delmy's offers a suitable substitution.
Here you can get your mangu, mornings only, with fried egg, salami, and fried cheese for just $6. It's a hearty breakfast, if an under-seasoned one. A pinch or two more salt would have improved the plantains, which are not so buttery as the mangu from Pioneer. Still, the texture, with the occasional lump of un-mashed plantain, is appropriately smooth and soft to the chew.
The sliced salami tastes just right, which is to say sort of like breakfast sausage and predominantly peppery. While I would have preferred my egg yolk a bit runnier, the better to smear the salami or plantains in, the fried cheese was just right. Crispy on the outside but gooey and bursting with creaminess within, it's greasy in all the right ways: uncomplicated and unambitious. Sometimes that's all you need, and maybe a side of freshly made tostones or smashed, twice-fried plantains to boot.
About the author: Chris Crowley is the author of the Bronx Eats and Anatomy of A Smorgasburg Pop Up columns. Follow him on Twitter, if you'd like. In person, your best bet is the window seat at Neerob, or waiting in line at the Lechonera La Piranha trailer.