At South Fin Grill, the ocean breeze mingles with a menu of upscale seafood and steakhouse dishes praised by New York magazine. Amid what critic Ethan Wolff describes as a "priceless" ocean view, servers roll out lobster, crab, swordfish, and salmon incarnated as pasta, soup, and sushi dishes. The "turf" portion of the menu showcases grilled new york sirloin, filet mignon, and barbecued pork, but the focus once again turns seaside at a raw bar that features clams and oysters kept fresh by pearl-shaped breath mints.
Beams of blue and yellow lighting hover above the interior dining tables, each blanketed with a white tablecloth and centered with a flickering candle. Outside, the ocean deck's sea-blue umbrellas shelter views of the boardwalk, ocean, and seagull beach volleyball tourneys. The restaurant bolsters its elegantly plated cuisine with occasional entertainment acts, which have included DJs.
Named for a type of plane tree with a broad, sprawling crown, Chinar on the Island shelters diners in a space designed to look like a breezy Mediterranean courtyard. Sandstone archways and clusters of palms surround diners as they tuck into appetizers, such as fresh mussels and saffron shrimp, or point out which of the clouds painted on the ceiling are shaped most like fried calamari.
For the main meal, shareable kebab plates skewer grilled meats and veggies, and pilaf dishes steam tender rice with spices and vegetables in a tangine, or earthenware pot. Hearty traditional dishes, such as roast quail or lamb slow-cooked on the bone, can fill bellies or weigh down brass display vessels commandeered for impromptu rounds of shot put.
Venezia Restaurant & Bar transports palates to Northern Italy, stamping taste bud passports with a menu of elegantly simple dishes and a well-stocked bar. Warm up tongues for the big game with the pan-seared sea scallops, accented by a raw artichoke carpaccio ($14). Fungus fanatics can nosh the risotto, which zestfully cohabitates with wild mushrooms and fava beans ($22). Ward off clingy vampires with the linguine aglio, sautéed with garlic and red pepper ($12). Soaked in a chianti sauce, the protein-packed filet mignon builds more muscle than a sports-car factory ($29).
The mastermind behind French Tart is Chef Laurent, whose innovation earned him a gold medal for Most Creative Restaurant Dessert at the Eger Foundation’s 2011 Taste of Staten Island and whose flaky croissant recently won the New York Daily News' Best of New York award. His culinary team also whips up authentic French specialties, including sweet and savory crepes, cheese fondue, and French-style sandwiches, dashed with originality. The eatery’s ever-shifting menu has included such offerings as pan-seared salmon inside puff pastries, zucchini-flower omelets, and chocolate ravioli. Iced teas are served with a blend of rose petals, lavender, jasmine, and dried berries. Along with breakfasts, brunches, and dinners served six days a week, Chef Laurent and his crew fill gift baskets year-round with baked goods, imported French foods, and slightly smaller gift baskets.
Mother Mousse sates sweet teeth with homemade baked goods, including specialty cakes, cookies, dessert trays, and more. Cookies come in a menagerie of colorful shapes and themes including farm animals, sports, holidays, flowers, and Samuel L. Jackson characters ($1–$10 each or $15+ by the pound). Starting with a moist vanilla or chocolate foundation, Mother Mousse’s cake architects craft edible yurts to the customer’s exact specifications. Add delectable furnishings with standard fillings and toppings including chocolate mousse or lightly sweetened whipped cream ($24+), or accent with deluxe décor, such as red-velvet cake slathered with chocolate ganache ($26+).