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.
What It Is: An intimate bistro in Rosebank with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.
What Our Inspectors Say: “The playful menu—complete with solid daily specials—may reveal a perfect pan-seared and golden-brown pork loin, set atop slices of pickled red and green peppers and surrounded by a generous amount of pan sauce made from Prosecco and vinegar. Then, cauliflower florets are pulsed to form couscous-like beads and cooked in the style of fried rice, studded with veggies and seasoned by soy. A tall wedge of pistachio-walnut cake dusted with powdered sugar is a light, fluffy and fitting finale.”
What It Is: A veteran Sri Lankan eatery that has been exciting local diners for almost 30 decades.
What Our Inspectors Say: “Those familiar with Indian food will love Lakruwana's abundance of curries, green chile-spiked kuttu roti, as well as refreshingly salty-and-sour lassi. But their flavorful fare is considerably spicier, packing heat into everything from fiery red chile 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.”
What It Is: An Italian-American eatery located inside a Victorian home in Tottenville.
What Our Inspectors Say: "The cooking is elegant, careful and revolves around faithfully rendered classics made with top-notch ingredients. Some dishes 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."
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What It Is: Head to Jody Scaravella’s Italian spot that also celebrates regional cuisine from around the world with a rotating cast of nonnas.
What Our Inspectors Say: “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 de Adelina arrives as an inspired layering of zucchini, basil pesto and cream cheese, all topped with Parmesan. And for a bit of sweet, try the torta di vaniglia di Melissa served with whipped cream.”
What It Is: An Italian-American hotspot that “is the queen bee amid shops, catering halls and ample competition.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “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."
What It Is: Chef/owner Silva Popaz’s cozy cash-only Mexican café on Van Duzer Street.
What Our Inspectors Say: “The charming Popaz travels quite often, and the flavors she picks up along her journeys tend to make their way back into her menu at Vida. The "Mexican Duo”—her most popular dish—features pulled pork- and chicken-stuffed tortillas, topped with a vibrant Chimayo chile and tangy cheese sauce, and paired with tender stewed beans sporting bright green onion; while a delicate bread pudding arrives puddled in creamy vanilla ice cream.”
What It Is: The "result of the love for Italian food and wine," per the restaurant's website.
What Our Inspectors Say: "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."
Hero image courtesy of Bin 5.