Located in downtown Largo on the old cobbled streets lies a small, yellow shack called The Deli Diva. This New York style deli, owned by "diva" Anne Money Buck and the "deli dude" Robert Buck, serves-up a mean lunch. Open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., it caters to the business crowd.
This is no ordinary deli. Anne Money Buck knows her stuff when it comes to the deli business. After all she's a third generation deli cook. Everything on the menu is made fresh daily. It's the type of cooking that you know someone spent hours making and preparing as a labor of love.
Their signature dish is the pastrami. Every morning at 3 a.m. the Buck's begin the curing process. It's a secret recipe passed down from Anne Money Buck's parents who had their own deli in New York.
On my recent visit to the diva's, I ordered her famous pastrami two different ways: the "pastrami sandwich" and the "Yo! Adrian!" Neither were disappointing. The pastrami was cooked to absolute perfection: tender, tasty and with a punch. But don't let the simplicity of the classic pastrami sandwich (pastrami on rye with deli-style mustard) mislead you. This sandwich was packed with flavor. I can understand why it's her top seller.
The "Yo! Adrian!", another pastrami sandwich served with Asiago cheese and olive tapenade, is pressed to perfection. The flavors of the cheese and the olives compliment the pastrami.
The deli is more than just sandwiches. They also have homemade potato salad - recipes from Anne Money Buck's mother - a soup of the day and homemade cheesecake. The potato salad is a great complement to any sandwich on the menu, but leave room for soup. The beef bean soup, a rich and hearty blend, can stand on its own, but on a cold fall day it was a great starter to a fabulous lunch.
No meal is complete without dessert. The deli's New York-style cheesecake was, by far, the best cheesecake I have ever had. For all you cheesecake afficionados out there, this one is a must.
The Deli Diva has now been in operation for two years with a loyal following. The seating area is an open patio overlooking some of the sculptures created by the "deli dude" himself. Robert Buck's metal works are on display in the courtyard.
If you want to take the Deli Diva's recipes home, there's a cookbook that will tell you how.
This is a cash-only business so be sure to leave your credit and debit cards at home.
"It's the only way small mom and pop stores can afford to keep the prices low," Anne Money Buck said.