A charming side of NYC
For Long Island travelers looking for a quick escape off the beaten path, City Island offers a laid-back retreat close to home.
It’s hard to believe the island locale is in the same borough as Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo. The quaint neighborhood, with its plethora of seafood restaurants, coastal views and rich nautical history, is more reminiscent of a small town in New England than the Bronx suburb it’s situated in.
And though it’s only a mere 18 miles away from midtown Manhattan, City Island stays truer to the second half of its name, with squawking seagulls and boat launches more plentiful than skyscrapers and yellow cabs. Located outside of Pelham Bay Park, City Island is a hidden gem, attracting visitors from all over the city and Westchester County for its fresh, world-class seafood, charming shops and maritime past. While it may boast many of the same attractions that draw visitors to Long Island, what makes City Island a worthwhile destination is how laid-back it is, a perfect day-cation getaway for some good eats, vintage shopping and beautiful views.
“It’s the kind of place you go to take in the sights and the history and just relax. It’s an incredibly comfortable place,” said Skip Giacco, president of the City Island Chamber of Commerce.
Like most beach communities, the Island’s peak tourist season runs from the end of June to the beginning of September. But for Giacco and other Island residents, the community’s charm was a year-round attraction.
“It’s a small town, there’s nothing trendy about it,” said Giacco. “It’s very relaxed and comfortable. Everybody knows everybody. It’s a throwback in many ways to a simpler time.”
And though it’s a small community, City Island makes great use of its real estate. The one-and-a-half-mile long and six-block wide island boasts 17 restaurants (about 10 list seafood as their main fare), in addition to three yacht clubs, three art galleries, two antique stores, two dessert spots, a nautical museum, public school and a theatre group which puts on regular performances. Adding to the picturesque landscape are charming Victorian and colonial homes, some dating back to the late 1880s.
The dog days of summer call for a break from busy schedules and hard work, and City Island offers a place where the hardest thing visitors will have to do is choose which restaurant to get their fresh-off-the-boat lobster from. Whether you’re going for a day or a weekend, City Island offers a charming side of New York City that is rarely seen, but absolutely worth discovering.
A Seafood Lover’s Paradise
One of—if not the main—draw for the thousands of visitors that descend upon City Island each year is it’s wide array of fresh off the boat, finger-licking good seafood. Lobster reigns supreme, but the Island makes mighty boasts in its clams, shrimp and crab selection. And for those who’d rather their seafood stay in the ocean than on their plate, there are plenty of City Island eateries offering delicious bites for a variety of tastes. Here’s a few of the standout eateries keeping us coming back to the Bronx.
The Black Whale
279 City Island Ave, Bronx, NY 10464 • 718-885-3657
This quaint and cozy eatery features an extensive menu featuring everything from meatloaf to rigatoni to beef stew and Maryland Crab Cakes. While some restaurants find their quality diminishes in correlation to how many items they add to their menu, that’s certainly not the case at The Black Whale, where every dish, be it a pasta, chicken, or seafood entrée, is cooked to perfection. Also praiseworthy is the Sunday brunch, a buffet which includes the usual contenders of sausage, bacon and eggs, as well as French toast, pancakes, bread pudding and waffles.
City Island Lobster House
691 Bridge St, Bronx, NY 10464 • 718-885-1459 • cilobsterhouse.com
City Island Lobster House is an icon on the Island, not only for its giant sign at the entrance to the Island, but for its outstanding seafood selection.
Diners can sit waterside, as they enjoy huge portions of shrimp linguine Alfredo, fried salmon, calamari salad or lobster from either Alaska or Maryland. The menu includes King Crab and Blue Claw Crabs, and diners can enjoy the crustacean in many glorious forms, including steamed, broiled, in paella, or stuffed with shrimp or crab meat.
Archie’s Tap and Table
536 City Island Ave, Bronx, NY 10464 • 718-885-9229 • www.archiestap.com
In a streetscape dominated by seafood restaurants, Archie’s stands out for exceptional, mouthwatering cuisine you won’t find anyplace else. The gastropub puts a modern American twist on homemade comfort food and with locally sourced ingredients, each dish stands out for its freshness. Daily specials add variety, but dependable favorites on the menu include the King Crab Mac and Cheese, Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffles and the Grilled Cajun Pork Chop, all topped off well with the apple crisp or warm bread pudding for dessert.
The Original Crab Shanty Restaurant
361 City Island Ave, Bronx, NY 10464 • 718-885-1810 • www.originalcrabshanty.com
For a seafood dinner without any pretense, the Crab Shanty is the place to go. Serving up flavorful seafood dishes, as well as hearty Italian fare, the Shanty has garnered fame for its generous portions, fresh fare and excellent service. Crustacean lovers will delight in the spicy Mediterranean Crabs, served Baltimore style, or the Dungeness Crab, stuffed with crab meat. For diners looking to sample the best of under-the-sea dining, the Crab Shanty offers myriad combination platters; the broiled seafood combination includes shrimp, scallops, fish clams, baked mussels and half a lobster tail, while the popular fried fisherman’s platter serves up filet of fish, calamari, scallops and shrimp.
295 City Island Ave, Bronx, NY 10464 • 718-885-9654
Every good meal ends with dessert and this charming ice cream shop is the perfect place to grab a scoop (or two) to satisfy that sweet tooth. Housed in an old cottage, the small forest green shop serves up generous servings of ice cream, available in a wide array of both classic and unconventional flavors. Banana splits, hot fudge brownie sundaes, pies and shakes are also on the menu.