2006-10-25 / Restaurant of the Week

The Original Bens' Best

96-40 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park 718.897.1700  1.800.BENSBEST Fax: 718.997.6503 www.bensbest.com
by Teresa Barile

          The one and only Original Ben's Best Gourmet Kosher Delicatessen, Restaurant and Caterers has been a New York institution for nearly 60 years, since Ben Parker (the "original Ben") opened the place in 1947. Today, Ben's son, Jay Parker, continues the tradition his father started by hand-curing the finest cuts of corned beef, pastrami, brisket and tongue that make Original Ben's Best legendary. Whether you eat in the clean, comfortable dining room, place an order for delivery or cater an event for hundreds, Original Ben's Kosher will satisfy your yen for the best in fresh meats, salads and side dishes.

The friendly and efficient wait staff will bring complimentary plates of house made, crunchy cole slaw and a health salad of cabbage, cucumbers and carrots dressed with oil, vinegar and spices. You'll keep crunching happily on the variety of pickles that accompanies these salads until your food arrives. As for the food, forget about smoothies and wraps. Ben's Best pastrami, corned beef and brisket, whether piled high atop rye bread or sliced to take home, are virtually free of visible fat and will melt in your mouth. Whole, roasted turkey is carved right in front of you to prepare your favorite sandwich. Early in the morning, the cooks start preparing soups and sauces, as well as the meats, using Old World recipes. One taste of the matzoh ball soup will cure whatever ails you and it is never greasy or salty. The mushroom barley is creamy and satisfying as well. Wash everything down with a bottle of cream soda or celery soda for the ultimate deli experience

Original Ben's Best also offers complete sitdown dinners. An Early Bird Dinner, served from 3 to 6 p.m., costs only $14.95 and includes soup, entrée and side dish. I can eat Thanksgiving dinner once a week, not just once a year, and with Original Ben's roast turkey dinner, you can, too. Juicy, kosher turkey roasted to perfection comes on a platter with choice of potato. I chose their new sweet potato fries, which were excellent. The dish also comes with a side order of fresh vegetables such as sautéed spinach, broccoli or peas and carrots. A thick slice of stuffed derma completed this feast. This Thanksgiving, don't cook, just call for a Thanksgiving banquet to be delivered hot and fresh to your home. Additional side dishes such as kasha varnishkes and sweet noodle kugel will lend an Old World touch to a traditionally American holiday.

With the cold weather upon us, a comforting meal such as the centuriesold boiled chicken in a pot, chock full of chicken, noodles, matzoh balls and kreplach, a kind of dumpling, will warm your soul ($15.50). Boiled beef flanken in a pot is another classic dish, and one of Parker's favorites. You'll love the stuffed cabbage rolls, filled with rice and beef and served in a tangy sauce. Also exceptional is the Hungarian goulash, with tender chunks of beef, peas, carrots and delicate gravy served on a bed of noodles ($14.50). Meat loaf, tender Roumanian steak smothered in sweet onions and rib-eye steak, served with hand cut French fries, are all delicious. A kid's menu starts at $6.95 and features Ben's famous hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken nuggets that children love. Save room for their homemade apple strudel, rugelach, noodle pudding or 7-layer cake for dessert. Jay Parker is a loveable soul, active in his community and the world at large. His "wall of fame" notes the many personalities who have eaten at his establishment, including politicians, celebrities and even the late Pope John Paul II. During the late pontiff's reign, Jay was one of a group of people representing a cross section of Judaism who traveled to Rome to say "thank you" to Pope John Paul II for his pursuit of peace and reconciliation for people of all faiths and his love for all mankind.

Original Ben's Best is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. for lunch and dinner or just a knish or hot dog snack. Fax in your lunch orders in the morning for afternoon delivery. The restaurant also does a brisk catering business, offering everything from a sandwich platter with salads for a business luncheon to complete holiday dinners. Menus are customized to the customer's needs and everything is prepared fresh that day. Call now to reserve your catered Thanksgiving dinner.

Celebrate nearly 60 years of a New York institution at Original Ben's Best and see why everyone agrees it's the best of the best. Visit Original Ben's Best Kosher Delicatessen any time for lunch, dinner or snack.

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