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Cheap Eats ; Broadway Deli's tasty sandwiches draw rave reviews

Lancaster's Broadway Deli, tucked away in a small strip plaza near the historic Lancaster Opera House, is really cute inside. From tabletops decorated with ticket stubs to the names of plays on the menu, the theatrical link is emphasized.

Although the added touches made the dining-in experience cozier, it was the excellent food, offered in interesting constructions or as design-your-own creations, that kept a steady stream of people coming in while we were there on a recent Sunday.

The menu offers 23 sandwiches, all for $6.50, $1 more with a side. They range from Reubens made with corned beef or pastrami to tuna, chicken fajita, chicken tender or chicken Caesar melts. There's a royal, chicken souvlaki, grilled Cuban or Tuscan, and several vegetarian choices. Each sandwich can be made on a wrap (white, wheat or spinach), focaccia, Tuscan flatbread, rye, pita, pumpernickel, or several kinds of Costanzo rolls.

Salads include Buffalo chicken, chef, Caesar, antipasto, Greek, tuna or Sicilian, each for $6.99. The three soups of the day when we were there were chili, Buffalo clam chowder and chicken lemon rice, for $2.99 a bowl, $6.99 a quart. There was also a page of specials that we didn't even get to, and a customer can create a sandwich from scratch, selecting any bread, meat and cheese and topping it with any of six kinds of mustard and eight types of mayonnaise.

John, Pat, John and I ordered at the counter, grabbed bottled drinks from an extensive selection in the cooler and settled into one of the booths. A row of coolers takes up one wall, and we discussed how much we like eating in a deli/grocery store, where people are shopping for the ingredients the cook is using to make our meals. We watched shoppers order their Boar's Head cold cuts.

We started with a cup of the chicken lemon rice soup, and it was exceptional. Obviously homemade, it was packed with chunks of chicken, celery and carrots and plenty of rice. The chicken broth was flavorful and not too salty, and featured a tantalizing zing of lemon flavor.

A chicken Caesar melt contained grilled chicken breast strips on a moist Tuscan flatbread, which was a soft disc thicker than a wrap and thinner than a pita. The melt, which also contained provolone, tomatoes, Bermuda onions, homemade croutons and romaine, tossed in Caesar dressing and then warmed, was a top-notch combination.

We were impressed with the raspberry smoked turkey bacon club, ordered on a fresh spinach wrap. In addition to the turkey and applewood smoked bacon, the sandwich contained provolone, tomatoes, lettuce and homemade raspberry mayo. The dried cranberries were a nice touch.

A turkey Rachael, modeled on a Reuben but made with oven-roasted turkey, contained provolone, tomatoes, homemade Russian dressing and fresh cole slaw. The concept of cole slaw on a sandwich might raise some eyebrows, but it perfectly augmented the fresh-sliced turkey.

Our final choice was an Italian assorted sandwich, made on herb-dusted focaccia, which included ham, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, roma tomatoes, red onions, banana peppers, sundried tomato bruschetta, lettuce and a smear of pesto mayo. The combination of flavors was brilliant, and the sandwich, served slightly warm, was too big to finish in one meal.

We sampled the redskin potato salad, the tuna mac and the Greek macaroni salad, which was made with tricolor rotini, sun-dried tomatoes and sizable chunks of feta. All three sides drew rave reviews.

In fact, overall we can use a theater term that might be appreciated in Lancaster's Broadway Deli: Bravo!

e-mail: aneville@buffnews.com

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LANCASTER'S BROADWAY DELI    

3.5 pennies (out of four)    

"Nice atmosphere, good food."    

WHERE: 5430 Broadway, Lancaster (681-3100)    

HOURS: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.    

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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