Best of Queens: Forest Hills’ A&J Pizza & Knish Nosh

Date April 7, 2008

NYC Food Guy spent the 1st 10 years of his life in Forest Hills so when I say A&J Pizza and Knish Nosh are two of the best at what they do, I’m speaking from years of eating experience. These two spots are to pizza and knishes as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are to the birth of the power hitter, as Cheech & Chong are to stoner comedy; classic heavy hitters which have stood the test of time.

The beauty of it all is that on a nice sunny day, NYC dwellers can ride the V train to 67th Avenue & Queens Boulevard, right near Knish Nosh, and experience the glory of both establishments.

It’s time for you to get to Forest Hills for some serious classics that are simply delicious….

Don’t even think about calling me biased. I haven’t steered you wrong yet and I’m not about to start now.

In the realm of slice joints, A&J’s plain slice is the best I’ve ever had. It embodies all I want in a slice:

  1. Chewy, crispy crust that’s slightly sweet while embodying the weathered flavor of the gas oven
  2. A thin layer of slightly sweet sauce
  3. A perfectly distributed covering of stringy mozzarella

This is a classic, simple pie that satisfies our basic pizza cravings. It’s not Di Fara’s and it doesn’t try to be. It’s only fitting that nostalgia plays a part in my love for this pizza, because it will do the same for you, conjuring memories of your first pizza experiences.

In the end, would NYC Food Guy be eating there for 24 years if it wasn’t good pizza? Exactly. A fresh pie is the truest litmus test for a slice joint’s validity but even a reheated slice at A&J’s is better than most of Manhattan’s slice joints.

They’ve gone through a few renovations and expansions over the years but the pizza hasn’t suffered a bit. I recently heard rumors they were closing and literally ran there to get a taste. Fortunately, those rumors have seemed to evaporate.

Knish Nosh has been serving “the official knish of New York” since 1952.

56 years of business on the same square block should be reason alone to visit this landmark. If that’s not enough, however, NYC Food Guy is here to say you haven’t experience a potato Knish until you’ve eaten Knish Nosh’s hand-rolled version in the store. Dip it into some spicy mustard and you’re in potato heaven.

The skin is a delicious contradiction. Simultaneously chewy, crisp, and flaky, it encases a perfectly balanced mixture of potato and onion. The onion’s presence is so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s there until you’ve finished your Knish and a hearty, spicy flavor, reminiscent of something a Jewish grandmother would cook, lingers in your palette.

Once you break it open and see the steaming insides, it’s not going to be in front of you much longer.

Go for the Classic Combo: A potato Knish, a full size Hebrew National hot dog in a blanket, and a can of soda for $6.00. It’s the best way to experience all the deliciousness of Knish Nosh in one fell swoop.

The pig in a blanket is excellent as well. Same paper-thin skin as the knish with a juicy Hebrew National dog inside. You can’t go wrong.

9 varieties of the hand-rolled large Knish are offered and I can honestly say the potato is so good, it’s the only one I’ve tried. NYC Food Guy’s parents enjoy the kasha, spinach, and broccoli. Check out the online menu for even more delicious delicacies.

You’re looking at the Queens Boulevard location below. The store used to be in a smaller spot on the opposite corner which is now occupied by a Starbucks. There are 2 more Knish Nosh locations in New York. One on 5th Ave and 106th street in Manhattan and another in Flushing, Queens. I’ve only been to the original location. I recommend you do the same if you want to experience Knishes the way they were meant to be eaten.

Here’s a map showing you how to get from Knish Nosh to A&J Pizza. Good luck eaters.

A&J Pizza

7137 Austin St
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 520-9018

Knish Nosh

100-30 Queens Blvd at 67th Ave.
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 897-5555
877-NY-KNISH
Central Park at the Harlem Meer
5th Ave and 106th Street
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
(overlooking Meadow Lake)
Flushing, NY 10807


18 Responses to “Best of Queens: Forest Hills’ A&J Pizza & Knish Nosh”

  1. DDR said:

    oooooooh i LOVE hot dogs! and males!

  2. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Fake DDR,

    You’re really loving this aren’t you?

  3. The REAL DDR said:

    Honestly, does this ever get old? GET A LIFE!

  4. Dan said:

    Finally an AJ’s review, about time. Been eating AJ’s for 20 years and love every minute of it. For me it is a true New York pizza, it’s the pizza I compare everything else to, and so far nothing has matched up.

  5. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Dan-

    You said it man. Nothing has matched up. I’m glad there’s another out there who echoes my sentiments. What are some of your other top pizza spots?

  6. Manny said:

    I left New york move to Michigan, they can make a pizza like yours out here to save there lives. I miss your pizza. evey time I come to new york your my first stop…..Do think that just maybe you can come up and open a real New york Pizza shop. I think we need help up here.

  7. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Manny,

    Ha, well it would have to pay pretty well for me to come all the way out there to probably fight an uphill battle. If I did open a pizza place it would be world of pizza, thin crust, deep dish and NYC style. What are you doing out in Michigan? What’s something you MUST eat if you go out there? Where are you from in NYC?

  8. speaklloyd said:

    I’m with you about AJ’s and Knish Nosh. Wondering how you think Nick’s on Ascan stacks up to the Brooklyn pizzas you recently reviewed?

  9. Barbara Hughes said:

    I would like to know how i can get some knishes sent to me here in Oregon. I am originally from New York, and used to eat there. knishes are my favorite in the world.{potatoe} My number is 541-991-7275
    Thankyou,
    Barbara Hughes

  10. Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish: Smoked Salmon Meets Style in TriBeCa | NYC Food Guy said:

    [...] Barney Greengrass’ Jewish grandma grub amidst a menu that offers 14 types of smoked salmon, Knish Nosh knishes, Carnegie Deli pastrami, and a plethora of freshly prepared sandwiches and expertly sourced [...]

  11. wriskit said:

    A&J Pizza’s owners sold the business and it is now under new management. The Thursday night special featuring pastas with live music and song by AL Loprinzi (not sure of the spelling) and patrons dancing between the tables is no more. The new owners have restarted the pasta deal, but without the unique ambiance of Al L, its just not the same.

  12. wriskit said:

    Knish Nosh is still going strong with the best knishes in the world plus a host of other goodies. Barbara Hughes can bring up their website (KnishNosh.com) toa view their menu and rates. They send their knishes anywhere in the USA. Call 877-695-6474 toll-free for shipping.

  13. LOUie D said:

    If your hanginig in Rego Park, don’t forget, Ben’s Best Deli, Auellino Pizza (equal to AJ’s), Mr.Tongs (best Chinese in the whole area) – ask about specials, and Istanbul Restaurant. Newcomer Sanni 026 Indian restaurant having a good start. And for simple well done food, Tower Diner.

    And don’t forget one of the best bakeries in NYC – Andre’s Hungarian, heavenly is the only word to describe their pastries.

  14. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Louie,
    Check out my Ben’s Best review here:
    http://nycfoodguy.com/2009/01/05/nycqueens-best-pastrami-bens-best-delivers-a-classicaly-delicious-slice/

    Sounds good about the pizza and Chinese food. What are the specialties at Andre’s?

  15. LOUie D said:

    Hey Guys, I mostly agree with your review about Ben’s Best deli, although I do like their stuffed cabbage. The hot pastrami on rye, with fries, free side of fresh coleslaw, along with either a beer or Dr. Brown’s Celery soda can’t be beat. I always have one after returning home from any vacation. To answer your question about Andre’s Hungarian bakery, Queens Blvd, 67th Drive, the croissants’ are the best in the city, easily comparable to anything in Paris. Then there is the decadent Cheese Puff, a perfectly baked, crusty phyllo dough pastry fill with white cheese. And to save the best for last is the marvelous strudels (I prefer the apple), just like mom used to make if she was a great baker.

    Auellino Pizza makes a thicker crust pizza, but uses excellent cheese, and makes a great sauce. Their hero’s are a meal in itself. And their lasagne is pretty decent too.

    And speaking of deserts how could I have forgotten – Ed’s Sweet Shop at 105-29 Metropolitan Avenue, right across the street from the movie theatre. An authentic 1930’s ice cream store, with an old working soda fountain (remember egg creams, and cherry cokes) , metal stools with the red leather tops, small tables in the back, and black and white tile floor. It even has a working telephone booth, just in case Superman shows up. Poor bridge and tunnel folks from Manhattan have nothing like it anywhere.

    Down the block , 107-23 Metropolitan is Dee’s Brick Oven Pizza, a wonderful selection of individual sized pizza pies, good pasta dishes, and wonderful salads. Big beautiful child friendly place, with a very good, and reasonable menu. Is it any wonder why this ex-Westsider from Manhattan only goes there to visit the museums, and a few favorite stores. We have the real mom & pop ethnic restaurants’ here, Manhattan is mostly cooperate Disneyland. Perhaps I will do a post about the great Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Thai restaurants’ in nearby Elmhurst at a later date when I’m not so hungry from writing this post. Keep it real, have a healthy and happy new year……..LOUie D

  16. Calvin of The Hills said:

    A&J’s is alright, as long as you don’t go there after 6pm, when they stop making pies for the night and serve stale slices.

    Take your car, or ride the Q23 down Austin St, through the Gardens, around to Union Turnpike and go to Pizza Classica. There is simply no comparison for slices in the area, and, perhaps all of Queens.

    It’s somewhat of a a pain to get to, though the payoff is well worth it. Try the plain slices, the cheese pie (that’s $6 less than A&J’s and 10X better), or the superb chicken caesar slice, which is double the size of any slice I’ve ever had and costs less than $4.

    Now, if we could just get them to open up a location on Austin St, I’d go to Nick’s and PC, and never go to A&J’s again.

  17. LOUie D said:

    Hey Calvin, I will try and find your place and give it a try. I still think that Dee’s Brick Oven beats out Nicks as far as individual sized pies, salads, and pasta dishes. It’s also a much larger better designed place. And of course the movie theatre and Ed’s Sweet Shop is just down two blocks away. So is Metro Meats if you need to pick up some meat, sausages, cold-cuts at a good butcher shop.

    That said , my all time favorite pizza place in NYC, is hands down, Di Fara’s – 1424 Avenue J, BROOKLYN. Yes, I did say Brooklyn. Their artichoke pie could easily be considered as a “last meal”. I only have one big concern, I am not sure the younger generation will take the same loving care, as the old guy has these many years.

    Anyway going back to the hood, I forgot to mention Pio Pio – Peruvian, get yourself a whole roasted chicken, rice with red beads, yucca fritta, and an avocado salad. Easily a good meal for two or three at around $28 bucks, I usually take out as the place is very small. Another busy place that is better earlier, then later in the day.

    And I also failed to remember , Wafa’s Lebanese – 98-08, 72nd Ave. near the above two places. A very cute, tiny place owned and run by, you guessed it a sweet woman named, Waffa. Delicious meat pies, wonderful lamb kebab sandwich, creamy hummus, and serious eggplant dishes.
    Lucky for us, she rotates her small menu with tasty treats almost every few days.

    And to end off my posts about Rego Park, Forest Hills places – the number one best bagel joint in the area is – Bagelette at 97-42 -63rd Rd. (near Marshalls). Equal to many of the best places in Manhattan. Their scallion cream cheese spread, lox spread, and cinnamon, raisin, walnut spread are all special treats for those lazy Saturday/Sunday mornings. And yes, I am usually there buying at least half a dozen for the family, and some friends and neighbors. See yah on the net……….LOUie D

  18. The NYC Food Guy said:

    LOUie D,
    Never had the stuffed cabbage at Ben’s Best. Andre’s sounds great, love a good croissant or strudel and the cheese puff sounds great. What kind of cheese is in it?

    So what’s better Auellino or Dee’s?

    As far as Eddie’s Sweet Shop goes, I’m all over it. Been going there for years and you’re right, there aren’t many left like that. The only one I know is Hildebrandt’s on Hillside Avenue near New Hyde Park.

    Let us know if you check out Pizza Classica. Would like to hear your review. I went to Di Fara’s a few years back and wasn’t as impressed as I thought I’d be after reading so much praise. I had a Sicilian pie and a couple of plain slices while I was waiting. It was definitely tasty but very soupy and super burnt, not charred, burnt. I understand the charm but I’ve waited my 90 minutes and that’s enough for me. What makes you love the pie so much? If you’re concerned about the pizza legacy head out to Totonno’s in Coney Island or Lucali in Carroll Gardens for a taste of some old school pizzaiola. And for slices of the old style, check out Sal and Carmine’s on B’dway b/t 101-102nd street in Manhattan; it’s my favorite classic NY slice.

    I’ve been to Pio, great food, King of Ketchup (who posts on here) loves that place. The fried rice, which I’ve only seen at the UWS location of Pio, is pretty righteous too. I’ve also been to Wafa’s and liked the personality of the place but none of the dishes I tasted really floored me. Then again, I didn’t try any of the things you mentioned so I hope to get out there soon. Good looks about the Bagel place, If I’m heading out your way, I’ll let you know.

    And when can we expect to hear about your Queens Asian food roundup? That’s a comment I’d love to see! Thanks for the great intel as always. Keep up the good work. Happy New Year to you too.

    Calvin of The Hills,
    My AJ’s review really shouldn’t hold weight anymore, they’re under new ownership and a tasting by my immediate family last week confirmed that the original, delicious recipe is gone, replaced by a subpar version. Disappointing to hear no fresh pies after 6pm, only a matter of time before they’re just out of business with a record resembling the garbage we’re seeing now.

    If you had to choose between PC and Nick’s, which would you go for? Is PC your favorite slice joint in Queens?

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