2013-01-02 / Restaurant of the Week

Original Ben’s Best

By Teresa Barile

Start off your new year with a tradition that goes back for centuries… Kosher delicatessen. And when you think of Kosher deli in Queens, there is no better choice than Original Ben’s Best, still maintaining quality and tradition for 68 ‘delish’ years. “Delicatessens are sadly dwindling in numbers”, says Jay Parker, the amiable owner of Ben’s. There were once 1,500 delis in New York City alone. Today, there are about 15 remaining. A visit to Original Ben’s Best is not only nostalgic, but you’ll taste the difference that only time-honored recipes can give you.

You’ll taste it in every dish on the menu. I started with a steaming bowl of matzo ball soup, packed with medicinal powers, tender noodles, and a light, tender matzo ball. This soup is legendary and is neither fatty nor salty, just delicious and will truly cure what ails you. Mushroom barley soup is always on the menu, while vegetable, lentil, and split pea appear on different days of the week. I devoured the crunchy cole slaw and pickles while a sampler plate of meats was prepared. Lean, tender corned beef cured by hand in house then sliced and piled impossibly high onto rye bread, and spread with mustard for a slice of heaven New Yawk style. Original Ben’s pastrami is so lean and seasoned to perfection. Brisket of beef is slow cooked until the meat is so tender, it melts in your mouth. Beef tongue on rye with mustard doesn’t get better than this, unless you wash it down with a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. For the rarest, most succulent roast beef, this is your place. You can also have the roast beef as a hot open faced sandwich with delicious gravy. The flavor of their oven roasted whole turkey cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Original Ben’s Best was recently featured on the popular TV show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. There’s even a new sandwich named for the show which layers pastrami, brisket, hard salami, fried onions, hot peppers, balsamic vinegar and oil on a club roll that defies you to finish it. You can order these meats sliced by the pound to take home and expert catering for all occasions is available for delivery to your next party in your home, office or temple. Orders fly out the door and even fly Express Mail overnight to expatriate New Yorkers who just can’t live without the best deli.

The hot entrées at Original Ben’s convey the flavors of another century. One of my favorite dishes is stuffed cabbage, filled with delicately seasoned meat in a tangy tomato sauce with sweet raisins, imparting unique flavor that can come from a centuries old recipe that was also featured on the TV show. Hungarian goulash is made with tender beef that is slowcooked for hours with carrots and seasonings in a hearty sauce. This is a dish that sticks to your ribs and your memory. Old fashioned boiled beef flanken in the pot is another traditional dish, served with chicken soup, carrots, matzo ball and kreplach. A gentleman seated near me devoured the homemade meat loaf served with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. Monday night’s roasted chicken is real comfort food, served with stuffing.

Order some deli, traditional side dishes such as potato pancakes with apple sauce, kasha varnishkes, house made knishes with potato, kasha, or spinach, stuffed derma, noodle pudding or their own hand cut French fries. They go well with everything from a juicy Kosher hot dog to a platter of corned beef and cabbage. There’s even a kids menu so everyone gets what they want.

For dessert, try the warm and flaky apple strudel, seven layer cake, rugelach, or fresh fruit salad. Original Ben’s Best Gourmet Delicatessen, Restaurant and Caterers is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and pleasant conversation. Take the M or R train to 63rd Drive and it’s right there. Order a fish platter for your next brunch where you’ll get savory smoked salmon, white fish, and sable arranged on a beautiful platter with lots of onions and vegetables. Original Ben’s will cater any party, big or small. Free delivery is available to your home or office. Enjoy the flavors of this unique cuisine, now more precious than ever. It’s original, it’s the best…The Original Ben’s Best. Accept no substitute.

The Original Ben’s Best

96-40 Queens Blvd., Rego Park
718-897-1700  1-800-BENSBEST


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