Florida Dining: TooJay’s

TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli
2223 N West Shore Blvd # B207, Tampa, FL
(813) 348-4101

(Plus Various Locations in Florida, see web site at http://www.toojays.com)

So I’m here in Tampa this week on business (with a little bit of vacation thrown in this weekend) and I arrive in town with a nasty flu-like virus. I’m under the weather, and I’m dying for some home made chicken soup, otherwise known as Jewish Penicillin, the cure-all to everything. Short of Rachel FedEx overnighting a quart or two of her home made matzo ball to me, I needed to find myself a hardcore Jewish deli, and fast — on the West Coast of Florida, its not like there’s an equivalent to  Wolfie’s (long gone), Rascal House or Pumpernick’s (also extinct) like there had been in the Miami/Broward area.

However, I had heard of TooJays, a regional Florida-based Jewish-style deli chain, and various web searches on local newspaper sites reported that their Matzo Ball was quite good. Not having that many options in front of me, I headed to the sole Tampa location, which is in the food court of International Plaza, the mall located right next to Tampa International Airport.

TooJay’s is located on “Bay Street”, the open air food court section of the mall.

TooJay’s has sort of an Disney-esque appearance, as if it were the Jewish Deli pavilion in Epcot Center. Everything is perfectly arranged, made up to look like a ubiquitous classic delicatessen, although clearly everything is brand new, not decades old.

TooJay’s deli meats are supplied by National Deli, a Florida-based cold cuts purveyor. According to Wikipedia, National Deli was once the non-Kosher subsidiary of Hebrew National (now part of ConAgra foods) and was spun off by ConAgra as its own company in 2001. Despite the fact that the meats are not Kosher (and TooJays does not profess to be Kosher, they have quite a number of non kosher items) they are actually pretty good quality. I tried the pastrami, and while its certainly not Katz’s, as a commercially made pastrami its probably better than anything else you can get in Florida.

Main Dining Room

Matzo Ball Soup, the main event. The Matzo balls have a wonderful fluffy quality, and have an alternating farfel/matzo meal texture which gives them a nice home style mouthfeel. The chicken stock was soothing, with some nice root vegetables thrown in, along with both white meat and and dark meat chicken pieces. Very nice matzo ball soup indeed, and it made me happy.

Turkey Club, on thickly cut rye bread that is baked onsite. Freshly roasted turkey, thinly sliced, with bacon, lettuce and tomato. The presentation was nice and the lettuce greens and tomatoes were fresh and of good quality.

The bakery section, in front by the takeout area. I took a mixed box of rugelach home, and I have to say this is some of the best I’ve ever had. Don’t leave the restaurant without getting some of these.

8 Responses to Florida Dining: TooJay’s

  1. Rich says:

    I am sad to report the that famous Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House Deli will be closing


  2. Randi says:

    My parents used to take us to Rascal House all the time when I was growing up. Such good memories. I’m sad to see that its closing. ( reading the above comment).

    As far as TooJay’s, last year I tried the one in Plantation( where I grew up). My sis and I thought the matza ball soup sucked. We actually sent it back. It was more like a tennis ball, so totally hard. If you’re ever in Hollywood/Hallendale, try the Sage or Flashback Diner. I much prefer the soup at Flashback, but the Sage has awesome bagels. They’re a kosher deli too.

  3. anne catz says:

    I would like to personally thank you for your complimentary review of our Tampa location. However, I am just curious – who are you and what prompted you do do such an extenisive amount of research in reviewing. pictures and all!. We are so pleased you enjoyed your experience. PS I hope our homemade matzo ball soup helped to make you feel better!

    Thanks again,

    Annie Catz
    VP Marketing TooJay’s Management Corp

  4. Al Schwartz says:

    When will Toojays open in the greater St. Louis Mo. area? You are really needed up here as the response would be fantastic.
    I don’t know what you mean by my comment is awaiting moderation.

  5. Al Schwartz says:

    you are great for Kosher style food

  6. Mitch says:

    I have done extensive work on the air conditioning & refrigeration at over 20 TooJays stores and the West Palm comisary, i must say they are the cleanest resteraunts to date. I have personally had to move reach in coolers out and work behind them on the floor , they are very clean, so the rest of the store follows suit. As for the quality of the food-TOP NOTCH- in my book, especially the Mandarine Orange Chicken Salad and ANYTHING in the desert case !!!!!!

  7. brittany says:

    the shrimp salad is AMAZING… the only thing i ever get there!!! mmmmmmmmmmm try it!

  8. Eileen says:

    I just wish they had one in Merritt Island, Florida. This way I don’t have to drive to Melbourne or Orlando to eat there. I just know that the next time we go I will be getting a pound of cornbeef and the rye bread and some of the pastries that they have so I can feel satisfaction. I feel empty once I leave empy handed. I want more later on and have nothing to munch on.
    My husband is the type that likes to drive 5 min’s to get a bite to eat.
    I am a true NY’er take me to where I can have a decent meal…..
    Hey, I think I am going to Too Jay’s today. I am hungry..
    peace, Eileen

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