195 Fifth Avenue (Union Street)
Park Slope, Brooklyn
40-11 Bell Boulevard (40th Avenue)
The owners of Press 195, a sandwich joint with stores in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Bayside, Queens, may have avoided putting the word “panini” on the menu. Nonetheless their futures are staked to pressed sandwiches: they have more than 30 on the menu. “Every deli in New York has panini now,” said an owner, Chris Evans, who grew up flipping burgers at the estimable Donovan’s Pub. But what the delis don’t have — yet — is the knish press: a sandwich built on a split potato knish, the brainchild of Brian Karp, the chef and co-owner.
Squeezed in the hot press, the knish’s crust becomes thick and crunchy, and the peppery, onion-tinged mashed potato inside melts into the filling. The pastrami version is thought-provoking, but even better is London broil with gobs of spicy brown mustard and an “onion jam” that takes you right back to the hot dog cart. The knishes are brought in daily from Gabila’s in Coney Island. These square, deep-fried specimens are generally considered inauthentic by knish purists, who prefer them round and doughy, but this is an excellent use for them. “When we got to a certain level of production, Gabila’s agreed to supply us fresh, not frozen,” Mr. Evans said. “That was the day we felt like we made it.” Order it well-done and be prepared to wait.
April 30, 2008