The weird thing about the Boulevard Deli is ... it's not on a boulevard.
"I was afraid to give up the name," explains Jim Julian, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Claudia. It once made sense: In 1988, they opened the deli on the Boulevard of the Allies, between Smithfield Street and Wood. In 2008, Point Park University bought the building and forced the restaurant out a month later.
Now the shop is in a Smithfield Street storefront with big windows and a full menu you can view before you go in. The specialty sandwiches are named thematically after Pittsburgh geography -- the Greenfield, the Strip District, the Overbrook.
"We decided to call one the Mount Washington, because it was roast beef piled high on the sandwich," Julian explains. After that, sandwiches were all ascribed names based on the neighborhoods they most resemble.
It's more than just a sandwich shop: Boulevard Deli also offers an array of sides to complete your meal, including pasta salad, macaroni salad and two kinds of chili. That, along with the friendly service, keeps folks coming back. Which is why it paid off to keep the Boulevard name, even when the shop moved to a mere street.
"We've got plenty of regulars who stop in for lunch two, three times a week," says Julian. "We were closed down for 18 months before we re-opened at this location, and people who used to come into the old restaurant found us here."
309 Smithfield St., Downtown. Mon.-Fri. 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m. 412-281-4300 or www.blvddeli.com