If you like Caribbean food, you’ll love Deli-Cioso deli and bistro.
The front cover of the menu calls the restaurant the “home of the Cubano sandwich,” and indeed this combination of grilled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard and mayo leads the Deli-Cioso signatures section of the menu. It’s joined by such Caribbean specialties as fried plantains (spicy or sweet), quesadillas and Puerto Rican-style rice or rice and beans. The deli-restaurant also features salads, soups and other side dishes, as well as flan, a Spanish caramel custard dessert. A variation on the Sloppy Joe sandwich, the Sloppy Jose, includes picadillo, a spicy Caribbean ground beef sauce.
“We do regular American food, sandwiches and such, a West Coast sandwich, and a sandwich called the Godfather, an Italian mix. I make my own dressings for the sandwiches,” said owner Robert Bruno.
The menu also includes such traditions as corned beef Reuben sandwiches, Philadelphia cheese steak and club sandwiches. Gluten-free bread is available, and mushrooms may be substituted for meat.
Deli-Cioso also offers catering, including six-foot sub sandwiches, cold cut platters and hot dinner platters, according to the menu.
Bruno, 54, is a Bronx native who has been cooking Puerto Rican and Cuban food for more than 35 years. He’s been living in the Hudson Valley since he was 21. He formerly owned El Coqui, a restaurant on the Rondout in Kingston, and before that a deli-pizzeria in Tivoli.
Bruno attended the High School of Art and Design and then studied for a year each at City College of New York and Brooklyn Technical School. “I was studying advertising, commercial art, and I did some work in advertising design but I was really interested in retail, fast food and interacting with people.”
Saugerties has a small but growing population of immigrants from Latin America, and from time to time they stop in at the restaurant. “They like it; it reminds them of home. I make a great Spanish rice, the black beans are great, and we have the Cubano sandwiches; we sell a lot of those.”
Where did he learn to cook the Caribbean and Puerto Rican specialties?
“Through the years and watching my Mom who had originally started when their family bought one of the cafes in Melbourne for sale ages ago. I opened a restaurant in New Paltz; it was called Coqui Latin Jazz Café. I learned a lot there, I had a Puerto Rican cook and I learned a lot from him.”
The place is too small for music on a regular basis, Bruno said, but on First Fridays he’ll be playing conga drums accompanied by a guitarist.
One of the things that attracted Bruno to Saugerties was the school system, he said. He has three children with his current wife and a total of seven.
Does he see this restaurant as a long-term success?
“People are spreading the word. They keep coming back; they like the food,” he said.
Deli-Cioso is located at 78 Partition Street, near Main. The phone number is 217-5072. It’s open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.