The Ultimate: Reuben

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Boston may not be known as a deli-sandwich town, but it has no shortage of great renditions of that delicatessen staple: the Reuben. Of all the tasty, meaty versions in and around the city, Johnny’s Luncheonette in Newton Centre delivers the superlative Sammie — messy enough to require extra napkins but not fall-apart sloppy (an all-too-common flaw). More important, it combines the right ingredients in just the right proportions. Each bite is a harmonious mouthful of tender corned beef, Swiss cheese, creamy Russian dressing, and tangy sauerkraut, the ingredients all wedged between slices of grilled dark rye. Polish it off, but save room for the sides — a dish of perfectly crisp coleslaw and a vinegary, oversize pickle spear.

30 Langley Rd., Newton Centre, 617-527-3223,

All Star Sandwich Bar ****
Packed with corned beef, All Star’s Reuben was served on seeded light rye on our visit, grilled to a buttery crisp, instead of the usual dark rye. Stuffed with a healthy balance of sauerkraut and piquant Russian dressing, it’s paired with a well-seasoned coleslaw and a crunchy dill pickle.

1245 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-868-3065,

Nick Varano’s Famous Deli ***
In a slightly nontraditional twist, this North End deli’s impressively-sized Reuben features paper-thin slices of corned beef and a flavorful but disconcertingly orange-hued Russian dressing.  The accompaniments — a little tub of mild-tasting coleslaw and a limp pickle — seem dinky alongside the gargantuan sandwich.

66 Cross St., Boston, 617-391-0050,

Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe **1/2
This South End breakfast-and-lunch spot delivers the most flavorful corned beef of the bunch, thickly sliced and pleasantly salty. But the sandwich is served in slapdash diner style, with too-thin marble rye, too little dressing, and ho-hum potato chips and slaw.

429 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-536-7669.

Jacob Wirth **
There’s excellent raw material here — slabs of corned beef so thick and juicy they’re just begging to be made into corned beef hash for Sunday brunch. But despite the delightfully tangy sauerkraut and expert meat-to-dressing ratio, soggy slices of thin dark rye make the sandwich impossible to polish off.

31-37 Stuart St., Boston, 617-338-8586,