Staten Island is serving up some of the best food in New York. From homemade Italian dishes to the exotic cuisine of Sri Lanka, there’s something for everyone to try (even if it means taking a ferry ride). By Carly Petrone.
Mardi Gras may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Cajun-Creole taste of old New Orleans. Stop into Bayou and sit down for a helping of Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya or Louisiana Shrimp Creole just like you would on the streets of the French Quarter. Be adventurous and try the Alligator Bites to start (don’t worry, they’re actually meatballs over Ciabatta bread with bleu cheese and tomato salad) or the Voodoo Mussels (splashed with Abita beer, herbs, and spices). You’ll certainly be full after eating the Big Easy Pork Chop – grilled pork chop stuffed with crawfish tails, melted Brie cheese, and topped with olive salsa – or the Crawfish Ettoufe – a Cajun delicacy made of tender crawfish tails that are smothered in a cream sauce of onions, celery, peas, herbs, and Andouille sausage over fettuccine. Wash it all down with a traditional Hurricane or Mint Julep cocktail and you may just feel like booking a trip south.
Have you ever wished an Italian Grandma could cook you a plate of pasta? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening at Enoteca Maria. Every day, a “Nonna” from a different region of Italy (Sicilia, Napoli, Palermo, etc.) will serve up her favorite traditional recipe. With a rotating menu, you can bet you’re in for a homemade meal that only Grandma can make. From fresh pastas like gnocchi and lasagna to gelato and biscotti for dessert, this place will make you want to give the chef a hug at the end of your meal. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 3 p.m. until the last customer says ciao. Want to know how to recreate all their great Italian dishes? Buy their cookbook, Nonna’s House, now available for pre-order (release date is set for April).
Vegetarians should head to Dosa Gardens for some authentic Indian cuisine. Try one of the many vegetarian curries like the Panneer Makhani (cheese cubes with fresh ground spices and butter) or Channa Masala (chickpeas in a mild spicy sauce). Pair it was with some warm Garlic Naan, Roti, or Onion Kulcha and soak up all the flavors of India. Start your meal off with a mixed veggie Pakora (fritters) or Medhu Vada (ground urid dahl, onions, chilies, and spices made into crispy doughnuts served with samber and chutneys) and make sure to get the Vegetable Biryani (rice served with yogurt mixed with onion) as a side. Non-vegetarian items are also available as well as an online menu for those looking for delivery.
If you’re looking for a good slice of pizza (okay, an entire pie) then head over to Bella Mama Rose. They’ve got everything from White Ricotta (with onions) to fresh Margarita Pie. Gluten free? They’ve got you covered with the option of ordering a Gluten Free Personal Pizza for $14. Feel free to add on mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, onion, garlic, anchovy, peppers, or extra cheese to any order, too. Their sides don’t disappoint either with options like sautéed escarole, mac & cheese balls, and potato croquettes on the menu. Eat family style or keep it all for yourself! Don’t forget dessert – may we suggest the homemade black & white oreo mouse, fresh hand filled cannoli, or limoncello tiramisu cup? Happy eating!
If you’re looking for something a little different, head over to San Rasa for some Sri Lankan food. Start with Mulligatawny Soup, a traditional dish that is prepared with chicken and vegetables and flavored with mild herbs and spices. A great way to taste a bunch of appetizers is to order the Assorted Sri Lankan plate, which consists of a combinations of spring rolls, wade (crushed lentils), and fish and vegetable cutlets. Try the Ceylon Chicken Curry (a traditional Sri Lankan grandma recipe) or Lamb Black Curry that is cooked in a unique blend of herbs and spices. But if you want a taste of a true Sri Lankan specialty we suggest ordering Hopper – prepared from rice flour and coconut milk that is served with your choice of curry – or Lamprie, which was first introduced by Dutch colonials over 300 years ago. It consists of everything from rice and curry to meat and a fried boiled egg all wrapped up in banana leaves. You’ve definitely never tried anything like it! Restaurant is open Wednesday-Monday from 12 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.