A set of French glass doors marks the entrance to Cross Mill Diner, though, when it comes to European culinary traditions, the diner’s cooks bypass France for Italy and Greece. The diner’s extensive eight-page menu includes housemade Greek-style spinach pies and shrimp parmesan, as well as an Eastern-influenced Thai cashew wrap with grilled chicken and ginger sesame dressing. American staples round out the menu, from char-grilled burgers topped with pork rolls to from-scratch buttermilk pancakes served as part of an all-day breakfast. Feasts unfold inside the BYOB eatery’s cozy dining area, where guests are surrounded by posters of waterwheels from around the world.
The Comfort Diner, which moved to Staten Island after 14 years in Manhattan, dresses up the traditional diner experience with classic comfort eats and modern-day hearty fare. Keep your growling stomach from frightening friendly ghosts by stuffing it with wild mushroom potato pancakes ($6.95), or start your chew cruise with mozzarella wedges ($6.95), which combine the food world’s most delicious cheese with the geometry world’s most delicious shape. The taco salad ($10.95) gives Mexico’s best-known culinary contribution a fork-friendly format, and oven-crisped fish and chips ($14.95) provide all of the flavor of the British classic without the sizzle of the deep fryer or the voyeuristic glare of Big Ben. Bread-heads can wrap their food-gripping phalanges around an array of sandwiches, such as a grilled chicken club ($8.95) or a Maine crab burger ($13.95), while proteiny-boppers can swoon over double-thick pork chops with homemade applesauce ($14.95). For herbivores, Comfort Diner slings savory angel-hair pasta with white-wine sauce ($10.95) and big bowls of veggie chili ($9.95). Breakfast and brunch options also satisfy early risers or late-to-bedders.
Chef Cheryl Smith builds home-style meals that incorporate global flavors into rustic recipes using techniques she has shared on Food Network features including Melting Pot, Soul Kitchen, and Gordon Elliot's Doorknock Dinners. Market-fresh dishes blend seasonal and regionally sourced ingredients, astounding savor receptors with the latest tastes from farmers' market flavor runways. At lunch, baked goods and crisp salads share satiating duties with personified sandwiches including the Steve, made with cured bacon and vine-ripened tomatoes ($7.95). Dinner selections fuse agrarian fare standards with worldly accents such as Moroccan vegetable stew over rice pilaf ($15.00) or Korean marinated rib-eye steak and watercress salad ($22.00).
Regional Flavors | Diner-Style Cuisine | Vegetarian Options | Retro Vibe
When to Go: To experience the blue-collar spirit that makes Bonnie's great, swing by on Sunday to cheer for owner Mike Naber's hometown heroes, the Buffalo Bills.
While You're Waiting
Inside Tip: Since the diner specializes in Buffalo staples, such as beef on weck and chicken wings, go all-in and order a regional beer—perhaps a Genesee Cream Ale—to go with your meal.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Save the world: Stock up on capes and secret identities at the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. (372 5th Avenue), a nonprofit storefront that benefits 826 NYC's creative-writing programs for kids.
Save your tongue: Soothe a buffalo-sauce-scorched palate with frozen yogurt made from local milk at Culture (331 5th Avenue).
At Moldova Restaurant, diners don?t just run into their Brooklyn neighbors, they make friends with visitors from Moldova, Romania, and other Eastern European countries as well. This is because owner Radu Panfil and his culinary team labor over centuries-old recipes, ensuring only authentic Moldavian ingredients grace the menu. Traditional plates of stuffed chicken breasts topped with cheese, lamb kabobs, and carp fried in cornmeal join house specials such as the mamaliga trapeza?cornmeal encircled by assorted meats, cheese, sour cream, and scrambled eggs. These entrees, as well as desserts, such as stuffed dried plums or crepes with sour cherries and cream, have earned the eatery attention abroad, including in a Romanian piece for Radio Europa Libera.
And the food is not the only Moldovan staple of the restaurant. Panfil and crew take great pains to replicate the country?s old-world charm with traditional folk art and paintings, banquet hall-style seating, Slavic-patterned ceilings, and tapestries from the homeland. They also host live music, inspiring patrons to join hands in a joyful circle dance. And to amp up the festiveness during the holidays, they light up the dining room by dangling folk dolls and other appropriate d?cor from the soft wooded beams that cross over the white and gray ceiling.
Tom's has been around since 1936, and it shows in the best possible ways. Here, friendly service is still as in fashion as it was more than 70 years ago, starting with the complimentary coffee and cookies passed out to customers waiting in line. The decor is also a throwback to simpler times. An old-fashioned soda fountain serves almost-forgotten staples such as chocolate and vanilla egg creams, and the dining room contains an eclectic, almost cluttered collection of Christmas lights, newspaper clippings, and kitsch, making guests feel as though they're dining in the rec room of an eccentric family member or the workshop of Santa's least organized elf. But while the old-fashioned sensibility certainly sets Tom's apart, it's the food that led The New York Times to declare it "a Brooklyn institution". The shop's famous fluffy pancakes may be enjoyed topped with syrup and homemade flavored butters or in incarnations that update the recipe with lemon zest and ricotta cheese or sweet corn and cranberries. Those who don’t wish to brave the considerable brunch crowd need not fret, as breakfast is served all day, though the addition of later-in-the-day options such as tender beef brisket may make it hard to choose what to order.