Hot Point Deli celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, but I've been a more or less regular customer for 18 years. At least that's how it feels every time I open the menu and see my old friends Zorba, Sporkie and Zuni. Pizzas with toppings as outlandish as their names (the Zorba features roasted pork, feta, black olives, plum tomatoes, banana peppers, spinach and mozzarella on a garlic sauce base), these are a few of the creations originally offered by a talented young chef named Michael Schiffer at Maximillians, the deli's predecessor in this space.
A kitchen fire closed Maximillians in 1998, and Schiffer reopened a few months later with a streamlined menu and a new name. With characteristic cheekiness, Schiffer paid tribute to the fire by naming the new restaurant Hot Point. Schiffer sold that restaurant in 2002, and subsequently reincarnated the original Maximillians in a new location.
The Hot Point menu has evolved over the years, but the offering still includes many of the original Maximillians pizzas. The Schiffer signature is still evident elsewhere on the menu, too, in an eclectic assortment of sandwiches, salads and fusion entrees such as salmon with pineapple salsa and tortilla-crusted catfish quesadilla. And if the Green Demon Pesto on the Spicy Cuban sandwich isn't quite as fiery as it once was, Hot Point Deli still retains enough of that original Maximillians exuberance to make it one of the area's most exciting options for lunch or a casual dinner.
The restaurant has changed hands a couple of times since Michael Schiffer sold it. Hot Point Café, which opened in 2006 in the Alexan at North Hills, is no longer affiliated with Hot Point Deli. Not surprisingly, given its location in an upscale shopping center, the newest Hot Point has toned down the quirkiness factor and added a breakfast menu. But I can still find my old friends Zorba, Sporkie and Zuni there.