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.
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.
"If I had a dollar for every time someone said 'What's a riceball?' I wouldn't even need to make 'em," said JohnPaul Perrone on an episode of the Cooking Channel's Eat Street. Since then, JohnPaul has moved from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant where he continues to create riceballs (known as arancini in Italian) using his grandmother's recipe. At Papa Perrone's Riceball Shoppe, each crisp and golden deep-fried ball protects a tender core of meat and cheese, veggies and cheese, or Nutella-flavored magma. The shop's menu also features other Perrone family recipes as well as Italian specialties, such as artichoke pie, baked or fried calzones, and meatballs.
Burgers N Dogs' comfort-fare menu fills plates with fried hot dogs, half-pound burgers, and piled-on sides. Chefs hand-patty half-pound portions of beef into meaty disks and spin them over an open flame to create each burger, finishing proteins with a dash special seasonings. Before piling on the traditional trimmings of a Chicago-style or chili-cheese dog, quarter-pound hot dogs do laps in the deep fryer to get ripped. Hand-cut french fries or onion rings and sips of soda or water augment the eats, alongside the traditional American takeout garnish, fortune ketchup.
Cuisine Type: Russian-French Fusion
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 5?10
Parking: Free street parking
Delivery / Take-out Available: Unavailable
Outdoor Seating: No
The owner of Verrazano Grill Restaurant describes their specialties as fusion cuisine that blend traditional Russian dishes with French cooking techniques. That description may cover the salmon steak in pepper sauce, but some dishes remain purely Russian. "The soups are made [from] a traditional, secret family ... recipe," says the owner. Alongside soups of the day, the chefs make borscht, kharcho, Pozharsky chicken cutlets, which originated as a popular dish among Russian nobility.
However, Verrazano Grill has a notable story beyond its unique menu. When Hurricane Sandy struck, the eatery was completely leveled. Though heartbreaking, it wasn't entirely a bad thing. It sparked the restaurant's transformation, as the owner rebuilt the entire place from the ground up, outfitting it with new kitchens, striking decor, and a wall of windows that maximize views of the State Island Boardwalk just a few feet beyond the front door.