You'll love this quaint, neighborhood bistro with its casual, yet sophisticated atmosphere, located on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. Though you'll find a mere 12 tables in this petite eatery, every inch is decorated in style with leather banquettes and chairs, distressed tile floors and a wood beam ceiling. A tidy bar is tucked into one corner and from it come delicious, fruity cocktails, cosmopolitans, martinis, fine wines, beers and more. On a recent Monday night, the pleasant dining room was full with patrons ranging from young couples to families enjoying the fresh, high quality Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.
Owners Mario Savvas and Rob Sarris along with our host Jerry, couldn't be more hospitable and downright charming. Jerry proudly brought dish after dish of the restaurant's specialties, starting with a plate of homemade hummus and tender black-eyed peas to be spread upon triangles of warm pita bread. Next he insisted we try loukaniko, which are handmade Greek country style sausages, mildly
spiced and grilled until crisp on the outside and juicy in the center ($8). How could we say no to saganaki, a decadent treat of sautéed kefalograviera cheese, finished with a splash of brandy that is outstanding, especially with a squeeze of fresh lemon ($9). As if that wasn't enough, out came a sizzling plate of Portobello mushroom caps filled with crabmeat stuffing, topped with a light béchamel sauce that was just delicious. Another house favorite are the gigandes, which are giant fava beans, cooked slowly with tomato and dill. These savory beans make a great appetizer or side dish.
Share one of their salads, many of which can be enjoyed as a main course, for example, the ahi tuna is perfectly seared with a sesame seed crust, sliced and arranged over a mound of mesclun greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado with a sesame citrus dressing. Another choice places grilled shrimp or grilled octopus on your salad for a light summer meal. Nick's pick is the classic Greek with lots of fresh, crunchy veggies, creamy feta cheese and olives. The avgolemono soup is creamy and lemony.
Entrees at Nick's Bistro include Greek specialties, such as moussaka and pastitsio, fresh fish and seafood specials, meats off the grill, pasta and more. My dining companion and I shared a generous order of 'Thalassini Fotia', which, simply put, is Greek style linguine topped with a piquant tomato sauce replete with the plump scallops, shrimp, calamari and mussels ($21). We shared this entrée and there was still some for lunch the next day. Lobster ravioli are tender pillows of pasta filled with sweet lobster in a light pink tomato sauce. Toothsome gnocchi are topped with chunks of mozzarella, basil leaves and white wine sauce.
The grill sizzles with juicy filet mignon, cowboy rib-eye steak and juicy Colorado lamb chops. The special meat of the night was grilled apricot glazed pork chops. Nick's is your place for fresh fish and seafood. The night's specials included whole red snapper, served grilled or pan fried, and filleted if you like. A hefty salmon fillet is broiled with a sauce of white wine, garlic and butter, or have it stuffed with spinach and feta cheese or crabmeat stuffing. Shrimp saganaki is composed of grilled shrimp finished with tomato, wine and feta cheese with a pass under the broiler to make it all melt together ($22). Everything is cooked to order and beautifully presented on gleaming white dishes along with your choice of potato, rice pilaf or fresh vegetables.
Nick's Bistro does a brisk lunch business, with orders to eat in or to go (free delivery on $15 orders). About a dozen wraps and hot pressed sandwiches are filled with either grilled vegetables, chicken, sliced filet mignon, loukaniko or the classic Cuban with marinated pork loin, Swiss cheese and pickle. Burgers are made to order, served hot and juicy and are made from the best quality beef, turkey, Kobe beef, or crab cakes. Order them alone or as a platter with hand cut fries, lettuce and tomato.
We sweetened our palate with some of their homemade, creamy, dreamy rice pudding and steaming cups of cappuccino. There's also N.Y. style cheesecake, chocolate cake and other daily treats. Nick's Bistro does expert catering for any number of people, so call ahead and leave the cooking and delivery to them. Visit Nick's Bistro in the quiet side of Forest Hills, open six days a week for lunch and dinner. They are closed on Wednesdays, but open the other weekdays from 11:30am to 10:00pm, and from 11:30am to 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Visit their Web site for menus and more information. Enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner, or just stop in for a cocktail and some appetizers if you like. You'll always be greeted warmly and made to feel very comfortable while you enjoy a taste of Greece in every bite. Yasoo Nick's Bistro!
104-20 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills 718.544-NICK (6425)