It’s more than just gooey, melted mozzarella on bubbling pizza. And it’s more than a long list of 29 sandwiches including meatball parmigiana and BBQ grilled chicken. Johns Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant has brought these dishes and more to thousands of events since opening in 1989. For offsite soirées—such as the ones they catered for the New York Police Department and Staten Island University Hospital—Johns can also provide tents, tables, and chairs that make planning a party so easy that some might want to start celebrating their birthday three times a year. Alternately, customers can dine in at their pizzeria, choosing from a menu of nearly 20 salads as well as seafood entrees and crowd-pleasing pizzas.
The chef at Zaika Barbeque & Grill pulls 14 years of experience out of his hat as he prepares traditional Pakistani dishes cooked- and spiced-to-order with halal ingredients. As he barbecues chicken, lamb, and beef, he locks spices and flavors into kebabs, whereas his tandoor oven slowly lets juicy chicken tikka stew and gather up as much flavor as it can. Waiters guide diners through the wide selection of entrees, which includes vegetarian curries and rice dishes. A petite menu of Pakistani desserts coddles sweet teeth after dinner, assuaging their ever-present, irrational fear of the tooth fairy.
Muscle Maker Grill grew out of a small smoothie shop, where owner Rod Silva prepared health-conscious alternatives to fast food. The restaurant has since expanded with a menu tailored to accommodate diners with vegetarian, carb-free, and gluten-free diets. The crew prides themselves in creating healthy versions of popular foods, and continues to serve the shop’s original protein shakes with favorites such as chocolate peanut butter and strawberry banana. Additionally, Muscle Maker Grill displays the calorie count for each dish on the menu.
The resident grill masters at Uncle Jimmy’s Backyard BBQ baste ribs, chicken, and pulled pork with zesty sauces, rounding out their menu of flame-kissed grub. Diners can oil rusty jaw hinges with meal-prefacing portions of fried zucchini strings ($6.50) or rent a forklift to ferry caramelized onions, fresh ricotta, and pulled pork from slices of barbecue pita pizza ($8) into waiting mouths. Rotisserie grilled chicken ($12 for a half bird) arrives dressed in barbecue sauce or lemon oreganata, and the Pig Out combo platter ($17) conquers carnivorous hunger pangs with a mighty triumvirate of pulled pork, ribs, and italian sausage. Each entree, such as the popular kansas city baby back ribs ($16 for a half slab), comes with two side dishes, such as sweet mashed potatoes or corn muffins, arriving on plates known to begin tugs of war with diners for the rights to them.
Soco’s proprietors had a vision: to create a neighborhood institution that is equal parts restaurant and cocktail bar. With food and drink offerings such as the pecan-crusted pork chop and a caramel martini topped with a toasted marshmallow, it’s hard not to sample both sides of the business on any given visit. Before Soco opened, its owners and executive chef Kingley John all worked together at Negril Village, a West Village Caribbean eatery. That experience inspired the group to shape Soco’s menu into the fusion of southern-American classics and Caribbean influences now on its lunch, brunch, dinner, and cocktail menus. In practice, that combination brings about flavorful plates such as blackened salmon and jambalaya with seared shrimp, Andouille chicken sausage, and dirty rice. Grass-fed beef burgers are accentuated with caramelized onions, red-bean mayonnaise, and parmesan-dusted fries, and at lunch, organic fried chicken tops a red velvet waffle. The wait staff can also recommend food pairings with Boylan’s cane soda, 20 American microbrews, or the bar’s 10 signature cocktails. As an homage to Soco’s home borough, designer Andres Aladin drew up plans for the eatery to look like “the Brooklyn Bridge turned into a restaurant.” To accomplish that feat, he juxtaposed industrial elements such as locally sourced steel with the homey feel of exposed brick, walnut walls, and a rotating staff of mothers who watch until you clean your plate.