Walk into Moody’s in Waltham and you’re greeted by something glorious: meat hanging from the ceiling. Beyond your standard cured sausages - salami, sopressata, and saucisson that are bound and wrapped so perfectly they could be Christmas ornaments - Moody’s also has big hanging hunks of Fred Flintstone meat. The kind where you can identify the animal it came from not by color or smell, but because the hoof is still attached. And walking in here is made all the more glorious by the free samples on the countertop, the bags of homemade potato chips, and enough cheese in the case to feed a small town in the hills of Burgundy.
You don’t get this stuff at standard delis that have racks of pre-packaged cookies, green bananas on the counter, and lotto tickets behind the register. Moody’s is different - it’s a deli for people who really like delis. And when you add in the fact that there’s a full-service restaurant behind the counter called The Backroom, then - with no disrespect to whatever neighborhood you live in - we can definitively say that this place is way better than your corner store.
The Backroom is actually more of a side room. Head past the cheese case and the cash register and you’ll find a dark dining room with a bar, a roaring fire in the open kitchen, and even more hanging animal parts. Sure, you could just order a sandwich to-go from the front counter, but as nice as eating on your couch in front the TV is (you can even save yourself from washing dishes by using a copy of Us Weekly as a plate) sometimes you want to relax with a glass of wine in a nice restaurant.
During the day, The Backroom fills up with a handful of locals and Brandeis people taking long lunches. At night it feels more like a cozy neighborhood wine bar than a sandwich shop. The menu expands to include a handful of pastas, flatbreads, and meaty things like wagyu meatballs, crispy duck, and slow-cooked brisket. It’s a small menu that’s worth driving out of the city for.
But it’s the sandwiches that will make you come back to Moody’s. They’re piled with meat (though not so much that they’re physically impossible to bite into), made with the type of nice bread you’d buy if you’re trying to impress someone at a picnic, and have interesting condiments like jalapeno relish, spicy avocado aioli, and olive tapenade instead of the usual mustard and mayo. You end up with a roster of sandwiches that, in theory you can make at home, but which you really can’t (unless your roast beef sandwich is made with super slow roasted beef and onion marmalade).
You probably love your neighborhood deli, and you should. It gives you sandwiches, chips, and pickles the size of your forearm - essential goods that are only slightly less important than things like shelter, heat, and cell service on the train. But at most delis, the only thing hanging from the ceiling is a calendar from July 2003 with the Bud Light frogs on it. Moody’s is better.
It comes with three different kinds of meats (you can choose your own if you want), a handful of cheese, pate, vegetables, and bread, so you could make sandwiches out of it if you wanted to, but you probably didn’t come to a restaurant to make your own food.
The beef on this sandwich is “super slow roasted” which turns out be better than mediocre slow roasted, especially when it’s joined by onion marmalade, fontina, and horseradish crema.
You probably shouldn’t leave a deli without getting a pastrami on rye. Luckily, the one here is excellent in addition to being essential.
It’s a tad bready, but the truffle salami is nice and subtle and works well with red onion and lemon vinaigrette.
It’s a bolognese that you’ll want to eat at any time of the day (well, that could be any bolognese, but since this one has an egg in it, you won’t feel as embarrassed about crushing the leftovers in your PJs the next morning).
Thanks to calabrese chili and perfectly creamy cheese, this might be the best of the few vegetarian options on the menu.