The Deli

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18914 E. San Tan Boulevard, Queen Creek

Blake Mastyk and his wife Nicole seem to like extremes. The couple used to work up in Cave Creek -- Blake as chef at Cartwright's, Nicole as sommelier at Tonto Bar & Grill -- and now they own their own winsome little restaurant down in Queen Creek. In any case, they've brought their knowledge of and love for good food and wine to this out-of-the-way location, tucked within a strip mall in the middle of horse country. Their menu features hot and cold sandwiches, a handful of dainty appetizers (small, inexpensive bites, really), pizza and modestly priced entrees, some regulars to the menu and some added as specials each week. The Mastyk's roast their own poultry and meats for the sandwiches, make their own bread-and-butter pickles, their own mayo, their own pizza dough and oooh -- their own ice cream, which has the icy quality of the stuff we used to churn by hand. Naturally, The Deli boasts a thoughtful wine list. The pastrami, constructed with mellow, house-made sauerkraut, Swiss and Thousand Island on rye, is first-rate, as is the crab cake sandwich, the ciabatta bread smeared with caper aioli. Crisp-crusted pizzas are good too. Appetizers such as almond honey-drizzled Brie, served with toasted baguette and roasted garlic, are small enough to actually rev the appetite, not ruin it. And it's important to do save the appetite until dessert time, which means that fabulous ice cream in changing flavors and moist, dense carrot cake, made with two pounds of carrots. Yum.