New York City visitors love dining with a waterside view. Here are five exceptional choices to catch a breeze and enjoy a great meal.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten has captured the heart of the Seaport with his multi-story, multi-room dining emporium The Fulton. At the Chef’s first seafood restaurant, the downstairs dining area features an open-air setting and outdoor patio seating, all with fabulous views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn. The most popular room is on the second floor where diners feel like they’re sitting right on the East River with waves lapping at their feet. If you plan ahead, you can also book one of the private rooks set with its own banquette and chairs for a two-sided waterfront affair.
The seafood (and meat) menu updates by season with some recent specials including a roasted Mediterranean turbot, presented whole and fileted tableside for a deft extraction of the delicate white meat. Served with a side of heat-packing chili oil and shallots, the seasonal fish is a most appropriate choice for the location. Other specials – order them when they’re available – include uni from California, a full raw bar with seasonal East coast oysters, and roasted summer carrots with an herbaceous basil pistou and tarragon. Add a touch of whimsy to your meal with a strawberry plant pot dessert to fish. The entire creation, a strawberry rhubarb smush topped with chocolate crumble and filling an edible flower pot with an edible flower as garnish, is a fun share to finish your meal.
A secret to many, Manhattan island has its own satellite island with its own island culture, Governors Island. Sitting between Manhattan and Brooklyn, the island is a gem for parks, picnics and staying cool on a sweltering city day. Here, the seasonal Island Oyster is a casual open-air hangout for bivalves and other seafood while offering an in-city island holiday. Try the blue-toned rummy Permanent Vacation — it’ll definitely put you in a Jimmy Buffett frame of mind.
Prepare to get wet, as tables are so close to the water that waves often crash onto diners. For even more fun, there’s ping pong, live music and a kids’ menu. To get to Governors Island, grab a ferry just north of the Staten Island ferry terminal. Stand to the right side, and you’ll get close-up views of the Statue of Liberty.
A wooden schooner-turned-restaurant and bar, Grand Banks is a former fishing vessel (the Sherman Zwicker) beautifully appointed with yellow-and-white sails at Pier 25 in TriBeCa. Views are guaranteed here, but you’ll have to decide which way to face: towards the Hudson River and the New Jersey skyline or towards Downtown Manhattan where One World Trade Center and the cityscape present a photographic background like no other.
Menu highlights by Chef Kerry Heffernan are seared sea scallops with sweet corn succotash and coriander, and a lobster roll dressed with fennel, lemon and dulse emulsion. A delicious dessert, key lime mousse keeps the summer spirit going as does the Revolución, a summer-light libation of rum, mint, lime and bitters. Plan to visit during a weekday, if possible, as the post-work bar scene and weekend crowds create long lines to get on board. If the perfect waterfront sunset is on your bucket list, consider the rooftop at City Vineyard instead, one pier north. The views are equally stunning and you can try one of City Winery’s eight vintages on tap.
For a similar experience, if you’re in Brooklyn, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park to Pier 6 where Pilot sits. A pilot boat-turned oyster bar and restaurant, the beautiful schooner opens on a seasonal basis for seafood-oriented dining on the water. Pilot shares the same menu as Grand Banks but offers a striking view of the Manhattan skyline and the East River. Come early – like Grand Banks, lines form quickly on beautiful days.
The River Café
For a fine dining experience in Brooklyn, The River Café in DUMBO has commanded the city’s waterside dining scene for 45 years. Here, venue and views match the caliber of food and service. The beloved restaurant’s very specific dress code adds to the specialness of the experience, and diners reserve well in advance for a waterside table with stunning views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and the East River.
The prix fixe menu is fine dining at its loftiest with starters including caviar and foie gras, followed by rack of lamb, butter-poached Nova Scotia lobster, or duck breast. While desserts vary, you can expect the likes of soufflés and other seasonal creations. A Madeira dessert flight is paired with petite sweets for an extra treat. The restaurant sits on an underwater pier and, while stationary, you’ll clearly have the sense that you’re dining right on the water. After acknowledging the tuxedoed doorman who welcomes you, be sure to look around the entry ramp where oversized flower arrangements and seafaring memorabilia make you feel like you’ve just boarded a private yacht. The River Café is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
All photos by Meryl Pearlstein