The day restaurateur Steve Wechter got word that Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Carmel was closing, he knew he had to fill the niche for homemade, Jewish deli–worthy corned beef on the north side. Wechter read every online source he could find about brining and roasting beef brisket, tinkering with the recipe for six months at home. Sometimes the brine wasn’t right (it takes two to four weeks), and sometimes he cooked the meat too long (he settled on four to five hours). Finally, his creation was ready to be offered in his Geist-area pizzeria, Apezza (10150 Brooks School Rd., Fishers, 317-436-8624, apezzapizza.com), in the form of generously stuffed corned-beef sandwiches and bubbling-hot Reubens.
The onetime owner of burger joints Famous Betty’s and Famous Jack’s, Wechter turned from patties to pizza about four years ago, consulting an “old Italian guy” and making sure to craft as many components, including the crust and sausage, in house. But Wechter hopes his corned beef is as memorable as his pies. “Most bars cover up bad corned beef with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing,” Wechter laments, “but I wanted the meat to shine.” That’s one reason he offers his Reuben open-faced, to let the succulent, subtly spiced beef, which he cuts thin and serves in a formidable pile, stand on its own. The lack of a grill at the pizzeria also led him to offer a knife-and-fork version, with just enough sauerkraut and cheese to remind you it’s a Reuben. “My dad was from New York,” Wechter says, “so I wanted to make mine as good as Katz’s or Stage Deli.”
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue.