A Slice of Queens: Nick’s Pizza in Forest Hills
BY ROBERT INTELISANO
When you think about Forest Hills, many things come to mind as it has a rich history and is considered an integral part of Central Queens. You can walk along the boutiques and retail shops on Austin Street and Metropolitan Avenue and hear a variety of languages being spoken.
In 1911, the Forest Hills Long Island Railroad Station opened taking passengers from Forest Hills to Madison Square Garden in 18 minutes.
The West Side Tennis Club (former home of the U.S. Tennis Open) moved from Manhattan to Forest Hills Gardens from 1913-1978, before relocating to the expansive Flushing Meadows Park. Forest Hills Stadium is a premier concert venue hosting major acts such as The Beatles (in 1964), Rolling Stones (in 1966), Jimi Hendrix (in 1967) and Tom Petty (in 2017), just before Petty’s untimely death.
My family owned a connected townhouse at 182 Burns Street in Forest Hills Gardens from 1967-2013.
I have fond memories as a young boy of visiting my Grandma Anna’s house, enjoying her delicious lasagna, chicken soup with mini marble-sized meatballs and home-made pizza, then playing in the park across the street with my brother Ross. Every Sunday we had the traditional Italian dinner (at 2 p.m. sharp) and there was always a full house and many visitors.
The aromas were heavenly, and nobody went home hungry! In fact, she would give out leftovers in colored Tupperware. She only had one rule-you had better return her Tupperware, or there were no more leftovers for you! Years later, she would remember which friends had second and third helpings. Ah, the good old days!
Now, there is a burgeoning foodie scene in Forest Hills. Austin Street boasts two Michelin Award winning Asian Eateries, Spy C Cuisine and Memories of Shanghai. These two restaurants replaced my favorite Michelin Award winning Danny Brown’s Wine Bar, which closed in 2015. Restaurant Row on 70th Road between Queens Boulevard and Austin Street is home to excellent Cuban, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Eastern European food to name a few. There are also several very good pizza options within walking distance.
Owned by Nick Angelis, Nick’s Pizza is located in Forest Hills at 108-26 Ascan Avenue between Austin and Burns Street. They opened in 1993 and have been serving outstanding pies ever since. Their other two other locations are in Rockville Center and the Upper East Side; however, Forest Hills is the original location.
Nick’s has been one of my go to spots for years, so I decided, in order to keep my objectivity, I needed to bring in a fellow food connoisseur from Queens to give his educated opinion: Bill Donofrio is a reverse mortgage specialist and lifelong Queens resident.
To give you an idea of his affinity for pizza, Bill, and his best friend Dave (now referred to as Chef Dave) after school would take one bus and two trains from Bay Terrace to John’s Pizza on Bleecker Street when they were only 15 years old. Roundtrip it was three hours. They would buy two pies, eat one on the spot and bring the second one back home to Bayside.
Nick’s Pizza is a unique place. You can order a thin-crust pie (no individual slices) with a choice of 20 toppings, and you can mix and match.
Their sauce borders on tangy and sweet. For example, we ordered a large pie with crumbled sausage and half with hot cherry peppers which you see pictured. Their crumbled sausage topping currently stands alone as my favorite sausage topping of all time!
Nick’s offers three different white pies which also stand out. They have a ricotta pie, mozzarella pie and a white pie with both ricotta and mozzarella. For those who cannot decide what type of pie to order, you can order a “Red and White.”
As the name implies, it is half-red and half-white (pictured with half sausage). I don’t understand why more pizzeria’s do not offer these menu choices.
Their house salad gets rave reviews along with their calzones and Juniors’ cheesecake. The homemade cannoli (when available) are Bill’s all-time favorite. Nick’s is also Bill’s choice for the number one Pizzeria in Queens, and he says, “it’s not even close!”
If you are a fan of old school bottled soda, Nick’s carries Stewart’s Cream Soda, Black Cherry, and Diet Root Beer. They have a decent wine list with Red, Rose, and White wine options. We enjoyed the red wine. They offer a well-rounded list of 11 beers ranging from Brooklyn Lager, Blue Point and Bud Lite to Peroni and Dogfish IPA.
Due to COVID-19, Nick’s has reduced hours Monday-Thursday from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. and from 12 – 9 p.m. from Friday-Sunday. They now accept credit cards and deliver.
I have seen write ups on Nick’s praising the consistency of their brick oven pizza. In my opinion, the most unique aspect of Nick’s pizza is they use a GAS Oven, not brick or coal. Their gas oven produces a charred thin-crust pie evenly cooked with never an off day.
Speaking of write ups, Four Square ranks Nick’s No. 2 in Queens. Zagat gives Nick’s a 24 out of a possible 30 and describes it as a “neighborhood fixture, family oriented joint for thin-crust pies.”
Where is your favorite Queens slice? Tell me your favorite place and why. Let me feel your passion about Queens pizza! See you next month!