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How Does An Old-School Fair Lawn Deli Stay So Fresh?

Eddie Tisi keeps food fresh at his old-school Fair Lawn deli.
Eddie Tisi keeps food fresh at his old-school Fair Lawn deli. Photo Credit: Eddie Tisi
"The  Soprano" — a customer favorite, Tisi said.
"The Soprano" — a customer favorite, Tisi said. Photo Credit: @inkaholic__
Matt Savage of Garfield displays his Instagram in a Lodi Dunkin Donuts.
Matt Savage of Garfield displays his Instagram in a Lodi Dunkin Donuts. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Walk into Fair Lawn’s “A Family Affair Deli” and you’ll get just that — and lots more.

“Momma” Angela is up front at the register, Ed Sr. is working the books and Eddie Jr. is working everything in between.

The Tisi family opened its Broadway eatery in 1995 and hasn't served anything but “the good stuff” ever since, said Eddie, a New York Restaurant School graduate.

Despite his passion for food, the Brooklyn native knew he’d never be able to run a restaurant if he planned on having a family.

He wanted to be able to see his son play baseball and watch his little girl grow up.

Cooking all night and missing out on family time didn’t appeal to him, but running a mom-and-pop Italian deli was both manageable and fun.

“I knew the food and I knew I had the vision,” said the Paramus Catholic graduate. “Twenty-one years later and we’re still here.”

And so are his customers… for the most part.

Tisi has been serving the same people since the day he opened. Sure, he’s lost some customers who have relocated, lost their jobs or passed on.

But for the most part, Tisi knows who he can expect to see, and they know what they’re going to get.

“Someone who came in 10 years ago will still get the Godfather. And the quality is still the same.”

He says he charges a little bit extra but his repeat customers know they’re getting their bang for their buck.

All of Tisi’s mozzarella is homemade. His mom makes the meatballs from scratch. Most ingredients come from Arthur Avenue and the extra-virgin olive oil hails from Sicily.

Tisi noticed an uptick in business about three years ago when he introduced a new menu item: The Soprano —ham capacola, imported prosciutto, extra-sharp provolone, jalapeno peppers and red wine vinegarette, served on a brick-oven hero.

Instagram sensation Matt Savage ( @inkaholic__ ) of Garfield came in last week and was blown away by it, he said.

“It was literally to die for,” said Savage, a HackensackUMC nurse. "The cherry peppers gave it some heat, which I love. He uses the thick-cut provolone cheese."

"And the deli's just a homey, Italian feel — warm and welcoming."

Even his competitors — most who sell a different type of food — stop in for a sandwich regularly.

“We’re a dying breed,” Tisi said. “An old-school Italian deli. You don’t find ‘em, really.”

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