Nick's Pizza, founded in 1993 in Forest Hills, Queens, doesn't get much press these days. Everyone's all about the Neapolitan pizza joints opening every other week, the wood-burning ovens, the blah blah blah, etc. But at one point, Nick's was cited as one of the top pizzerias in the city — all the more remarkable for the fact that it's out in Forest Hills, a great neighborhood most people just don't visit unless they live nearby. Oh, and for the fact that it's not using a coal- or wood-fired oven.
Inspired by a Facebook request for pizzerias to review, I headed back to Nick's. I wanted to see if it would amaze me on revisit the way its sister restaurant Adrienne's Pizzabar did in early March.
The pizza at Nick's is baked in a gas-fired oven, albeit a top-of-the-line one, which is able to put the kind of char on a pie that a coal-fired oven does. The cheese is very good — the same stuff owner Nick Angelis gets from his business partner and which supplies Adrienne's. The sauce, not too thin and not too thick, is superb — a just-right balance of sweetness and acidity.
The crust, however, is just a touch too dry, making the "pizza bones" an almost leave-it affair.
Luckily, there's a solution (which I have to thank Always Hungry for hipping me to). It's this:
Nick's calzone, which looks almost like a pancake or a grilled sandwich than the pocket pizza that it is. A small ($7) or large ($12) one is filled with an ample amount of creamy, grainy, slightly sweet ricotta and more of that excellent fresh mozzarella. (Additional fillings are extra.) Here's what longtime Slice'r Sandro had to say about the calzone in a comment from 2010:
Nick's calzone is the best I've had in the city. It passes the ultimate test: its best version is the "plain," or ricotta- and mozzarella-only version, with marinara on the side. The crispychewy shell, smell, flavor, and mouthfeel evoke the fabled mozzarella-in-carozza-envy scene in De Sica's Bicycle Thief. Another big plus is the shape — it's pressed virtually flat, in the classic, homey Neapolitan style. Cannot say enough good things about this dish.
The calzone comes with a small teacup of pizza sauce on the side. Use the extra sauce to dunk your pizza crust in. It's sort of like a high-end version of chain-pizza bread sticks.
I almost like the calzone here more than the pizza. But the pizza's no slouch, either. Don't spend too much time dithering on it, though — just order both.
108-26 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills NY 11375 (at Austin; map) 718-263-1126
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