Sun-Thu, 4pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat, 4pm-11pm
J, M, Z at Bowery; F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.; B, D at Grand St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
A cynic might wonder what the incentive is for a place like Sammy's Roumainian to keep cranking out top-rate old-school Jewish cooking. The steady crowd, most of who hail from way out of town, might not notice if the food lost a step. Distractions abound, with live music nightly, mostly lounge standards intertwined with Borscht Belt banter. The low-ceilinged basement dining room is studded with business cards, photos of patrons, and collegiate souvenirs. Kettle One vodka frozen into blocks of ice provides another reason to overlook the food, as the festive crowds here are not bashful in their tippling. Even after 37 years at the same location, however, Sammy's isn't ready to be relegated to the history books. The expertise is apparent from appetizers like karnatzlack, an elongated sausage patty made of beef, veal, and plenty of garlic, with a spongy texture courtesy of a careful balance of seltzer and baking soda. The chicken liver is mixed at the table, with caramelized onions and strips of turnip for texture. Sammy's signature is the Romanian tenderloin, a skirt steak tenderized with minced garlic and served in a portion too large for its plate. Fluffy potato pancakes are the natural choice for sides. Prices aren't cheap, but given the huge portions and high quality, they're not completely out of line.Recommended Dishes
Chopped liver, $11.95; karnatzlack, $19.95; single Romanian tenderloin, medium, $36.95