Our World: Sometimes less is so much more when it comes to food

Pastrami Dan's

586 Tamiami Trl N, Naples, FL

Every town has a restaurant that is different from the rest, not because of its fancy menus, flashy signs, or over the top décor, but because when you step inside their doors, you feel like you’re home.

These restaurants usually only have a few things on their menu but they make them really well and with no compromise to the ingredients or flavor. Discovering one of these gems is like finding a $100 bill in an old coat. It could be a hole-in-the-wall taqueria, a deli that actually gives you the right amount of meat, or a piece of pizza that transports you to a nostalgic experience or place.

These types of places can be in business for 40 years and never spend a dollar on advertising. They exist because the customers need their food to survive, to bring them a sense of home and happiness that only food can provide. Pastrami Dan’s is just such a place.

The restaurant, located near the corner of U.S. 41 and Sixth Avenue North in downtown Naples, is extremely unassuming, but for Dan Costaregni, it’s not so much about the place as it is about the people and the food.

The moment you walk in, you can smell the roast beef that’s been cooking all morning and the pastrami that’s being steamed for each and every sandwich.

Costaregni, the owner, and his wife Beth and two kids Nick and Amanda are the entire staff at the restaurant; it’s a family affair. It’s always been that way ever since Costaregni started working for his father at the family’s first pastrami shop when he was 16. Now Costaregni has his own son Nick, fresh out of high school picking up where he left off many years ago.

The concept for Pastrami Dan’s started in Connecticut in 1970, and was brought to Naples in 1975. In its 40 years of existence, almost nothing has changed. The menu has the same three items they started with: pastrami sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches and tacos. There are a few other side items on the menu, but these three things keep business coming back year after year.

“We try to keep it consistent,” Beth Costaregni said. “We make a good product, we treat everyone nice so they’re happy to come back in and it works.”

The entire family works behind a tight counter weaving in between each other, taking orders, making tacos, steaming pastrami, and manning the register in what seems to be organized chaos. It’s comical and familiar in the same way a family might interact while making Thanksgiving dinner together.

Dan Costaregni’s son Nick will tell you that his father is a bit stubborn, and that he doesn’t like change. Dan Costaregni still gets his pastrami from the same vendor in the Bronx that his father used 40 years ago. He’ll tell you that the secret isn’t in how much you do but how well you do it.

“You don’t need a lot of things on your menu. Do two or three things well and you won’t need anything else,” Dan Costaregni said.

It’s almost his mantra: keep it simple, keep it fresh, but above all keep the customer smiling and happy.

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Connect with Manuel Martinez at www.naplesnews.com/staff/manuel-martinez/.

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