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).
Don't let the name fool you: butter cookies are made from more than just butter. At Cutest Cookies, each from-scratch batch incorporates 10 ingredients, including vanilla, flour, and meringue powder. From here, however, the similarities between each peanut- and tree nut-free batch end. Customers determine every cookie's color, shape, and design, ranging from wedding cookies decorated like tuxedos and dresses to birthday cookies ornamented with replicated pictures of the birthday boy or girl.
Bakers make the order one to two days before a customer's event, hand-decorating each cookie with individually mixed icing colors. To ensure freshness, they place every cookie in a cellophane bag fastened with a matching ribbon. If left in original packaging, an airtight container, or your mouth unchewed, the cookies will stay fresh for an entire month.
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. Chef Laurent was also recently featured on Fox 5's Good Day New York for their croissants, quiche, and chocolate truffles. With its wide array of classic baked goods, French Tart's bakery makes an ideal stop for coffee and a pastry. In the evening, French Tart transforms into a traditional French bistro restaurant.