Just about everybody knows that the Staten Island Ferry offers the best free way to see the Statue of Liberty. But most folks simply disembark on the SI side and immediately board the boat to head back to Manhattan. Next time, we recommend you stick around and try some of the borough’s best restaurants, all within walking distance of the ferry terminal. By Jessica Allen.
In Spanish, beso means “kiss.” This date night destination honors its name by offering an intimate, low-lit atmosphere in which to share small plates of ceviche, sauteed mussels, or empanadas, among other tapas, along with bigger portions of such Spanish dishes as shrimp wrapped in jamon serrano, chicken breast stuffed with chorizo, and paella. Sure, it’s sexy, but it’s also good for lunch (try the salads) and brunch (the three-course menu includes a complimentary bloody mary, mimosa, or sangria, our favorite option by far).
OK, so Blue is a bit of a walk from the ferry terminal (about an hour), but you’ll be walking near the water, so at least the view is nice (or you can take a 15-minute bus ride). Anyway, the restaurant is worth whatever effort you make to get there. Blue serves food from the Mediterranean region, offering appetizers and entrees like grilled octopus, avocado carpaccio, and chicken with feta, spinach, and olives. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, you can get a three-course prix fixe menu from 4 to 11 pm for just $20.14.
When owner Joe Scaravella decided to open a restaurant, he wanted it to reflect the home cooking he experienced throughout Italy. So he decided to bring those homes straight to Staten Island’s St. George neighborhood. Every Wednesday through Sunday night, Enoteca Maria features a real live Italian grandmother cooking her hometown specialties in an open galley kitchen. While the menu changes depending on the nonna wearing the apron, the sense of dedication and the hefty helping of love remain constant from night to night.
Stop in for a slice or seven at Pier 76. It’s run by the same family as Joe and Pat’s, a veritable pizza institution on Staten Island, as well as popular newcomer Rubirosa in Manhattan. Not surprisingly, Pier 76 serves similarly lauded pizza pies. If you’re not in the mood for a slice, you can feast on Italian standbys like antipasto, panini, and pasta. Daily specials include a free large pie when you buy one specialty pie on Wednesdays and a free bottle of wine when you order two entrees off of the special entrees menu on Thursdays.
Often called Staten Island’s answer to Peter Luger, Ruddy & Dean Steakhouse is made for meat lovers. Named for owner Danny Mills’ grandmothers, the restaurant finishes its steaks (cut from beef specially selected by Mills and aged for 14 to 21 days) by searing them in cast iron pans and finishing them in high heat, just like Grandma Ruddy and Grandma Dean used to do. Weather permitting, you can hang out on the rooftop patio, which provides great views of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline.