As a NE Queens gal, I spent way too many nights on Bell Blvd. (heretofore Bell) in Bayside. Around 6-10 years ago, I was all Belled out, and would only go to tried and true places with tried and true friends who would help me disregard the lameness surrounding us. This snobbery on my part (combined with the fact that I was never home and would soon move away) made me overlook when Press 195 opened in 2005, and for two years, we both quietly existed, one unaware of the other. Then one fateful night, Bez introduced Big Bobo and I to the "Sandwich Kings of Brooklyn" (and also to Magic Hat), and a love affair commenced.
Press 195, created by two wonderful men Brian Karp and Chris Evans, began with a Park Slope (195 5th Ave, get it, 195. Bell's should really be Press 4011, but whatevs) locale in 2002 to rave reviews (seriously, if you're second to 'Wichcraft and before Katz's on any one's list, it's an affirmation of greatness). When the decision came to expand in 2005, Chris, a Bayside native, brought in a third partner, Jimmy Volz, also a Bayside native, friend to Chris, and a separation of one degree from me, and the three decided on Bell. There are two major differences between the Park Slope and Bayside locations:
one is the artwork in the backyard which is done by Cern,
and the other is the fries, the delicious, delicious fries with their delicious, delicious dips. (Anytime you want to come see them in real life, Danny, you just let me know.)
Onto the food. Press serves a variety of paninis, along with appetizers, salads, soups, knishes, and pressed pizza. There is also a kid menu, from which I've been tempted to order the PBJ Press, but never have (I'm going to have to bring my nephew here soon so I can do such things). I have tried a number of their presses and salads (but not soups, we all know how I feel about soups), and each one has been a positive experience. The photos in this review are of #24: portabello mushrooms, spinach, Swiss cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. The paninis usually come with a cucumber salad, but they were out of it last week, and we got potato chips instead.
The Ciabatta always holds up well, not getting too soggy and flimsy, and not too doughy and overwhelming the insides. The use of fresh ingredients make the sandwiches and salads extra tasty, and the sandwiches aren't overloaded so you never deal with insides falling out. There is also a good selection of beer and wine, including Magic Hat #9 aka my fave beer, as well as some desserts; surprisingly, I've never had any of their desserts, I'm usually too full at that point.
But the best part of Press, in my opinion, is the ambiance. It's very airy, relaxing and unassuming. Many times, my friends and I have stayed after eating to hang out, and have a few rounds before going home. Yes, we've even hung out here without eating anything, it is on Bell and anything serving alcohol is wise to stay open until 4, but there is something decidedly un-Bell about it. It's sporty without being a sports bar, and a local spot without being an Irish pub. However you categorize it, me likey, and it is now my favorite spot on Bell.
195 5th Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn
40-11 Bell Blvd