Hot dogs sizzle behind the window, and the smell of fresh corned-beef sandwiches lingers in the air like the memory of vanished relatives. Owner Jay Parker, a vigorous middle-aged man with a thick head of silver hair, watches over his chickens, his flanken in a pot, his salamis. You come in, he chats with you, he talks about the deli business, about Rego Park, about politics. And then you eat.
The sandwiches are good, of course, but it’s the hamishe specials, the veal breast, the pot roast, and the roast chicken, that keep you mired in the amber of delis past. Then there is something we can never avoid ordering, if only because it might be the most Jewish menu item in New York: a “pupu platter” of derma, stuffed cabbage, potted meatballs and a “special treat” that changes daily. Only a Jewish deli in Rego Park could serve that and call it a pupu platter, and rest assured that every single customer would get the joke.
Ben's Best. 96-40 Queens Blvd., Rego Park; 718-897-1700.