2016-01-06 / Restaurant of the Week

Ben’s Best

Gourmet Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers

Ben’s Best Kosher Deli at 96-40 Queens Blvd in Rego Park is truly the place to go for delicious, authentic deli delights. Serving the community for 71 years, it is among only about 200 kosher delicatessens left in the entire country. Jay Parker, the deli’s accomplished owner, has been its driving force since 1984 and, carrying on a family tradition, he has kept it flourishing to this day. Of late, he was featured in the movie Deli Man (an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary of 2015), appeared in Crepes to Kreplach on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and was named a finalist in Columbia University’s 2015 Age Smart Employer Awards. The secret of his success? Knowhow, quality, customer satisfaction, and soul.

Ben’s Best cares about doing their best. They cure and smoke their own pastrami and corned beef using a lengthy tried-and-true process that insures perfection. Their bread, baked for them daily by a local baker, is always fresh and preservative-free. The Ben’s Best menu offers all your classic favorites like Matzo Ball Soup, Chopped Liver and Hot Pastrami, but it also has some modern fare to satisfy all tastes. There is even a special kids’ menu, and your table gets a complimentary appetizer of crisp coleslaw and two kinds of pickles (dill and half sour).

Just as importantly, Ben’s Best plays a role in honoring an old culture and keeping it alive. It’s a place where customers come to warm the heart as well as nourish the body. As my dining companion put it, “Reading the menu sparks memories of family gatherings and my grandmother’s wonderful cooking. I feel happy just being here.” So come in with the whole family, or you can pick up your order or have it delivered. Ben’s Best also caters, and why shouldn’t you enjoy your own party? If you have a large group to serve, let Ben’s Best take care of it for you.

At Ben’s Best you’ll find a tempting variety of Soups, Salad Platters, Overstuffed Sandwiches, popular Entrees (such as Boiled Chicken in the Pot, Braised Fresh Brisket of Prime Beef, Stuffed Cabbage Rolls), and so much more. Your favorite deli foods will be there, I guarantee it. You can even make up your own combo sandwich or request extras like additional meat, fried onions, or sliced tomatoes. But the menu cautions you tongue-in-cheek and with a healthy slice of Jewish humor, “Too Much Grief or Aggravation to the Counterman, $1.00 extra.” Now, if you round out your meal with an “Appeteaser,” a Dr. Brown’s kosher soda, and a homemade dessert, you just might satisfy all of your cravings until the next time.

Ben’s Best is a welcoming, bustling Rego Park cornerstone that feels to me like a TV show, a neighborhood center and a restaurant all rolled into one. On the deli’s outside window, you can watch a video of Jay Parker cooking with Guy Fieri. Making your way inside, you may pass some delivery people slipping in or out the door, and next, you’ll see several deli denizens waiting at the take-out counter. The dining room is in the back, and though it was not yet 6:00 PM when my friend and I arrived for dinner, the tables were already filling up. Deli servers have a reputation for curtness, which is part of the deli mystique, I suppose, but that is not the case at Ben’s Best. Our waitress,

Ania, was cheerful and patient beyond measure as we asked question after question and took an inordinate amount of time to order. When we finally decided on three dishes to share as a first course. we ordered the Fried Kreplach “appeteaser,” a Beet Salad, and a Kasha Knish. The kreplach were beautifully presented, smothered in deliciously sweet fried onions, the salad very fresh and perfectly seasoned, and the knish so large and so satisfying that my friend could barely eat another bite of anything else. Ah, the humble knish! With its flaky outer crust and substantial filling, it is one of those quintessential old-world Jewish snack foods that I find myself craving most often, and the one we had at Ben’s Best was exceptionally good. Ben’s Best makes five different kinds: spinach/cabbage, potato, kasha, and meat as well as something special they call a Knishwich (a knish stuffed with your choice of corned beef or pastrami), so whatever filling strikes your fancy, you’ll find it.

Of course, other customers were enjoying their own favorite ethnic foods. Looking around, we saw two children at the next table devouring large kosher hot dogs along with homemade fries served in their own attractive funnel-shaped containers; and at another table, a couple each eating the Goulash entree. At the same time, a miscellany of traditional Jewish dishes were being served: assorted Cold Cut Platters, Stuffed Derma, Potato Pancakes, you name it.

For my second course, I chose the Roast Maryland Turkey with homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing and fried potatoes. My turkey was delectably moist and tender, and I think the cranberry sauce was the best I have ever eaten. My friend ordered some vegetable sides and the homemade sweet potato fries.The vegetables, she said, were fresh, cooked just right, and the sweet potato fries crisp, not at all greasy, and very tasty. So if it turns out that you’re in the mood for something different, maybe an omelette, a veggie burger, or a bowl of chili, go ahead and order it. It’s sure to be good.

Some popular take-out items at Ben’s Best include Soups, Pastrami, and Stuffed Cabbage, just to name a few. Of course, if you only need some freshly made Potato Salad or Chopped Liver to complete your buffet, you can get that at Ben’s Best too. Everything you order will be made with the finest kosher ingredients and is bound to please you and your guests.

You don’t have to act on my word alone, though. Why not come in yourself and have a look around? Ben’s Best is open 7 days a week, from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and from 9:00 AM to 9:45 PM Friday and Saturday. It’s easy to get to from almost anywhere in Queens. Take the E, M or R train or the 60 bus to 63rd Dr and walk east on Queens Blvd toward 64th Ave. Ben’s Best is at 96-40 Queens Blvd on the south side of the street.

Finally, remember that Ben’s Best delivers and also caters big and small events. If you can use some help with a Superbowl party or other social gathering, check out the Ben’s Best catering menu or speak with the Catering Manager.

96-40 Queens Boulevard
Rego Park, NY 11374 • 718.897.1700

www.BENSBEST.com • Visit them on FaceBook

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