Address: Locations in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey
Signature Dish: Cheesecake
Often imitated but never quite duplicated, Junior’s Restaurant is known for producing New York-style cheesecake at its finest.
Since the day owner Harry Rosen debuted his restaurant on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn in 1950, the recipe has never changed. Light and fluffy, creamy but not dense, richly flavorful, sometimes swirled, sometimes fruit-topped and baked upon a light spongecake crust, some might say there’s no need to improve upon perfection.
Rosen decided that in order to be great, his restaurant had to be known for more than just its diner fare. So, along with baker Eigel Peterson, he experimented in the kitchen, testing and tasting until they created the perfect formula.
Premium cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs and a touch of vanilla are the simple secret. Hand-blended in small batches and mixed for over 40 minutes, there is no water and no fillers. And when it comes to toppings and swirls, Junior’s Restaurant settles for nothing less than the freshest fruits and spices, homemade purees and imported chocolate.
Now with two locations in Times Square – in addition to the original Brooklyn storefront, an outpost in Foxwoods Resort Casino, an outlet in New Jersey and the availability to ship anywhere in the country – there are many ways you can get your fix of what many consider to be the world’s best cheesecake.
You can expect a wait at the Midtown locations, especially when Broadway shows let out, but it’s worth it for a taste of real New York city cheesecake. Try the brownie marble swirl or the apple crumb. If you can’t decide, you can never go wrong with the original.
Junior’s Restaurant has been passed down from one “junior” to the next and remains family-owned and operated. Stop in with your family for a sandwich and a slice of cheesecake, have a real Brooklyn-style egg cream, or go all-out and order the “one-and-only New Yorker cake shake”: a strawberry shake topped with a slice of strawberry cheesecake.
Junior’s Restaurant Original New York Cheesecake
Makes one 8-inch cheesecake about 2½-inches high
Junior’s Restaurant Spongecake Crust (recipe below)
Three 8‐ounce packages Philadelphia cream cheese (full fat), at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra‐large eggs
2⁄3 cup heavy whipping cream
The day before you plan to serve the cheesecake:
- Heat the oven to 350. Make and bake the cake crust as directed and leave it in the pan. Keep the oven on.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 package of the cream cheese, 1⁄3 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch together on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. The filling will look light, creamy, airy and almost like billowy clouds. Be careful not to overmix! Gently spoon the batter over the crust.
- Place the springform cake pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes halfway (about 1 inch) up the side of the springform. Bake until the edge is light golden brown, the top is light gold, and the center barely jiggles, about 1 1⁄4 hours. If the cake still feels soft around the edges, let it bake for 10 minutes more (the cooking time will be about the same for both 8‐ and 9‐inch cheesecakes). Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away – don’t move it). Then, leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold before serving, preferably overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- On serving day, release and remove the side of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a straight‐edge knife, not a serrated one, rinsing the knife with warm water between slices. Refrigerate any leftover cake, tightly covered, and enjoy within 2 days, or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
The Junior’s Restaurant Way – Always bake the cheesecake in a water bath. It keeps the heat in the oven moist and helps the cake bake slowly, gently and evenly. It also helps ensure that your cake will have a smooth top, with no large cracks.
Junior’s Restaurant Spongecake Crust
Makes one 8-inch cake crust
Softened unsalted butter, for buttering the pan
¼ cup sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of table salt
2 extra‐large eggs, separated
¼ cup sugar, divided
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter the bottom and side of an 8- or 9‐ inch springform pan (preferably nonstick). Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending it all the way up the side.
- In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until thick light-yellow ribbons form in the bowl, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts.
- Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until there are no remaining white flecks. Blend in the melted butter.
- In another clean bowl, using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one‐third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks; they’ll disappear during baking.
- Gently spread the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan and bake just until set and golden (not wet or sticky), about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it’s done. Watch carefully and don’t let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on while you prepare the batter for the cheesecake.
For more AAA-approved signature dishes, visit AAA.com/DiamondDish.