It may be the least populated of the five boroughs—and often revered as an Italian-American hub—but Staten Island has a rich and diverse culinary scene, studded with impressive Sri Lankan, Italian and Spanish restaurants.
The next time you take the ferry or find yourself heading in over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, check out one of these seven not-to-be-missed restaurants on Staten Island.
Enoteca Maria (St. George)No need to venture far on Staten Island for excellent Italian. Enoteca Maria is just blocks from St. George Terminal. Each night, the menu changes depending on which nonna is presiding over the kitchen, as in Nina from Belarus, who might serve a salat Odessa mingling grilled eggplant, red onion, tomato and parsley. Lasagna di Adelina arrives as an inspired layering of zucchini, basil pesto and creamy cheese, all topped with parmesan. And for a bit of sweet, try the torta di vaniglia di Melissa served with whipped cream.
Sagara (Brighton Heights)Visit Sri Lanka by way of Sagara, where the island nation’s rich cultural diversity is on full display. Dishes here are delivered at once, so you’ll be nibbling on an appetizer of fish cakes, mas paan, and fritter-like dhal vade, while also tucking in to hearty entrées. It’s a veritable feast as you make your way through the likes of fluffy Basmati rice with piquant curries.
Seppe Pizza Bar (Stapleton Heights)From the breezes blowing off the water to the natural light flooding its contemporary-chic space, this Navy Pier dining retreat is a breath of fresh air. Start with one of their fantastic pizzas, such as the unusually delicious "Pep in your Step," starring pepperoni, sliced jalapeños and a drizzle of spicy honey—and you certainly won’t be sorry.
Lakruwana (Stapleton Heights)Prepare for a sensory overload the moment you set foot into Lakruwana—the Sri Lankan hot spot is covered from floor-to-ceiling in murals, sculptures, flags, and more. Those familiar with Indian food will love Lakruwana’s abundance of curries, green chili-spiked kothu roti, as well as refreshingly salty-and-sour lassi. But their flavorful fare is considerably spicier, packing heat into everything from fiery red chili lunu miris chutney to deviled chicken. Loaded with ginger and garlic, this stellar tomato-based chicken specialty comes with cooling raita and tangy vegetable curry.
Vinum (Stapleton Heights)As its name would suggest, this bijou on Bay Street is centered around wines, with many offered by the glass. Inside, find an unexpected décor that looks and feels like an osteria out of Italy. The menu is designed for sharing, making the salumi and cheese platters a prevalent choice. “The Meatball Bar” is another treat, with unlikely twists on tired offerings—think truffled veal or lamb.
Giuliana's (Eltingville)Staten Island may swarm with Italian-American eateries, but this festive classic does a masterful job in keeping its kitchen distinct and the patrons loyal.
Hearty stracciatella is loaded with spinach and a comforting sauce of eggy parmesan, finished with a generous shower of black pepper. Seek out the perciatelle con sarde, a Sicilian-style pasta tossed in a powerful blend of fennel, saffron, raisins, sardines, anchovy paste, and a crunch of toasted breadcrumbs. A trio of gelatos—pistachio, chocolate and bitter almond, served with biscotti—is a divine ending.
Angelina's (Tottenville)Angelina’s has become a beloved institution thanks in large part to this borough's love for Italian-American food. The restaurant takes full advantage of its unique location, inside a Victorian home and decorated with original woodwork as well as sculpted windows. Some dishes here are more innovative, as in their version of spaghetti “pomodoro,” which adds seafood and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. But the tender veal scaloppini, simply and quickly sautéed with a wine reduction and bit of lemon, has been and always will remain perfect.
Hero image: Lakruwana. Photo by Michelin North America