Nick's Pizza, Forest Hills


On Sunday I found myself in Forest Hills, Queens, on a typography tour led by Paul Shaw, a calligrapher, typographer, and lettering instructor at Parsons. Forest Hills? I had no idea it was such a hotbed of typographic wonders—so I had no idea what typefaces or lettering we'd be in for there. I did, however, have a pretty strong idea what I'd be doing for lunch after the tour: Nick's Pizza.

For me, "Forest Hills" and "Nick's" have been pretty near synonymous for years, since it's usually talked about when New York's pizza biggies are named. "Blah blah blah, Nick's is awesome. He does a coal-oven-like pie in a gas-fired oven. Blah blah blah."

Heck, I've said those things before. But I hardly make it out to Forest Hills, so while I was there, I wanted to see if the place was as good as I remembered.

Nick's Pizza Upskirt (by Slice)Great toppings and balance, as usual. Fresh sauce and cheese. But the crust wasn't as great as I had remembered. While it was crisp, it was too dry and a bit flavorless. So much so that I actually left pizza bones.

I'm wondering if the expansion of the Nick's empire—the location in Manhattan, along with Adrienne's and Dean's, etc.—has taken its toll on the flagship. It's a good pie, but it was missing some oomph.

As far as the type tour goes, we learned that, contrary to popular belief, the subway system does not feature Helvetica exclusively as a typeface, and we saw some great examples of lettering on various monuments in the area. I also snapped some pix of the following pizzerias, though the tour moved so quickly from one stop to the next that I didn't have time to hit them up.

This place looked like it would have been burned out, but a quick peek in the window told me it was still operating. Most people use ellipses incorrectly, especially on blogs and in emails and IMs, but I've never seen a set used in a business name like this before. Note the use of a dingbat between Pizzeria and Restaurant. Shaw would later point out to us a similar instance on a monument, where he said it was a convention used in applying lettering to a tight space—to squeeze in more characters per line, the letterer would eliminate spaces and place a dot between words to connote word breaks. Oh, the R in restaurant here needs to be aligned with the baseline.

I liked the cut-out lettering on the bench, but the sign is kinda meh. A & J was charging $1 a slice in honor of its 25th anniversary on Sunday.

Not much to say about the signage here.

This section of Forest Hills was great. I loved the suburban feel of the area, with little corner strips of businesses tucked in to match the Tudor architecture of the neighborhood. This and Sorisi were my favorite pizzerias as far as looks go.

Nice neon work. The actual awning, not so much.