With black granite bar, wood decor, and glowing candles, the warm and friendly atmosphere of Nick’s Bistro draws the hungry New Yorker in, but they stay for the robust Greek food! Their diverse menu includes dishes made with fresh, handpicked ingredients and created from recipes that have been passed down through three generations.
Owned by Mario Savvas and Alfred Vitsentzos, Nick’s Bistro in Forest Hills prides themselves on quality food and friendly service. Even celebrity Ray Romano enjoys the experience found at Nick’s!
We spoke with Alfred Vitsentzos, the co-owner and asked him to share his thoughts with us:
1. Could you please tell our readers when Nick’s Bistro first opened its doors and why the founder chose Forest Hills?
We opened in 2009. We were familiar with the area and loved it. We found a great corner location, and that’s kind of how it all started. It was Mario, my partner, who started and I joined him six years ago. I worked here when Mario opened. I went to college in Fairfield, but I’d come and wait tables on Sundays. Mario and my brother are best friends, and I grew up with him; he was and still is an older brother to me. Mario is on property daily. I work the night times. Both of us are here on Saturdays during the days, and he’s here on Sundays.
2. How have you seen the neighborhood change in the last five years?
It’s changed for the better. This neighborhood is fantastic. It always has been and always will be. We love being here, and it’s a great neighborhood. I think the restaurant scene has been strong all around; great for us.
3. How would you describe Greek American cuisine?
Mario’s uncle, Andrew, is our head cook. Andrew and his brother, Charlie, owned a restaurant in Astoria for 30 years. Nick’s Bistro’s Menu comes from generations of cooking. A lot of the recipes have come from Mario’s parents and grandparents. We consider ourselves Greek Mediterranean and Greek American… with such a culinary background, our food is next to none!
4. Name the three most popular dishes in Nick’s Bistro.
Branzini, black linguini, and our pastitsio.
Black linguini, squid ink pasta, has a lot of seafood in it. It has been on our menu from the beginning and is one of the recipes from Mario’s grandparents! Our pastitsio is traditional Greek lasagna. It’s chopped meat, a mixture of lamb and beef, with noodles and cheese served with a red sauce.
Branzini – European bass cooked whole (head and tail)
Pastitsio – A Greek version of lasagna. Greek style ziti pasta, seasoned chopped meat then topped with a creamy bechamel sauce.
Black linguini – shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops in a red ouzo sauce
5. Do you recommend reservations? Also, on a busy evening, what is the average wait time for walk-ins?
Making reservations on a Friday and Saturday is wise. Also, when we have the outside seating during the nice weather, it’s a huge draw. We have 40 seats inside and 20 seats outside. Smaller parties (2 people) are typically seated in 15 minutes. Four people may wait half an hour, and larger parties will just depend.
6. Where do you source your ingredients?
The ingredients are all handpicked which is great. Mario gets up bright and early, and he handpicks them himself from different markets. For other items, we use the same suppliers Mario’s father and uncle did. Those relationships run deep and are trusted resources. Our main menu is consistent while our specials may vary depending on what’s available.
7. You have a fantastic brunch menu. Do you recommend making a reservation for brunch?
Yes, we serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 to 4. It’s really popular so we definitely recommend reservations for both those days.
What do you recommend when we come in next week, brunch or dinner?
Come for dinner. Have the black linguini. Have the branzini. Have the pastitsio. You’ll enjoy it.
We serve those dishes anytime you want!
8. If you were giving a sales pitch to a group of restaurant people, how would you describe your restaurant?
Many customers refer to us as their own “dining room.” I believe that it’s because Nick’s Bistro is so welcoming, family oriented, and the food is fantastic. I know most of my customers by name. I know what they drink, what they eat, and a lot about them.
So you have frequent repeat customers?
Yes, we have customers that come in every week and have since the beginning when we opened. They know our staff by name. So, we’re a family oriented place with really good food!
Many people say they used to go to Astoria for Greek food since they’re known for it. But, you don’t have to go to Astoria. Our food is just the same if not better.