As a Staten Island resident or visitor, you may think you have to go to Manhattan
for a good ethnic meal. It isn’t so. Below are my restaurant recommendations for a date, hanging out, bringing the family, and ordering in.
On a Date
With its quiet, dim atmosphere, well-spaced tables, attentive service and tasteful Asian art, Forest Thai (1211 Forest Avenue) is the perfect place to bring a date. Entrees are $7-$12, delicious and served to share, but I recommend starting with an appetizer. My favorite is the kanom jeeb (vegetable dumplings). They also serve a tasty clear soup, which is light and chock full of vegetables such as cucumbers and baby corn, but is not a good choice if you don’t like pepper.
On to the main course! There is a lot to choose from, so don’t limit yourself to the pad thai. The folks at Forest Thai are friendly and will let you substitute tofu for much of the meat on the menu, making this an ideal place for both vegetarians and meat-lovers. And they do a good job preparing the tofu so that it’s more than just the bland stuff that’s flavored by the sauce used in the dish. It has an enjoyable flavor and texture of it’s own.
If you’re not getting a noodle dish, try the sticky rice: it’s a fun side dish and there’s enough for two to share. Enjoy the vanilla ice cream if it is included with your entree. If not, cross the street after your meal and go to Egger’s, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. First, be sure to say goodbye to your hosts, who will likely remember you and greet you warmly the next time you eat at Forest Thai.
With the Guys/Gals
Feel like unwinding with some friends and maybe grabbing something spicy? Then the Burrito Bar is your place, located at 585 Forest Avenue. The downstairs is a bar, buzzing with the 30’s crowd. Up the stairs is an eclectic, Mexican/1960’s-themed restaurant enjoyed by people of every age group. The Burrito Bar has a creative menu of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos and more. Many of these dishes have options of meat, veggies or black beans and they all go well with a beer. If you manage not to stuff yourself, order some fried ice cream for dessert, but make sure you have a friend to split it with.
With the Family
For a good time with the family, try Goodfella’s at 1718 Hylan Boulevard. There, a friendly staff will serve you great Italian food. I happen to like the rigatoni alla vodka, served with an unbelievable vodka sauce, peas and proscuitto. But the real specialty is the pizza. Goodfella’s proudly displays its banners declaring that its pizza was voted the best. It’s easy to see why, since a Goodfella’s pizza is cooked with fresh mozzeralla. Can’t choose between that vodka sauce and that pizza? Go for the vodka pizza. And admit it, it’s not the kids who have a sweet tooth, it’s you. Grab a cannoli or cheesecake. It’ll go down well with with a strong cup of coffee, served in an oversized Goodfella’s mug.
Just want to hang around in your pajamas? For a great Chinese meal at home, order from Chin Chin Palace, located at 1756 Forest Avenue, in the Forest Promenade on the corner of Forest and Richmond Avenues. There are countless Chinese food restaurants on Staten Island and you may be wondering what is so special about this one. Two things: authenticity and variety. If you grab a copy of the menu, you’ll see that it is printed on two sides of a very large sheet of paper in tiny font to fit all the dishes. Meat, tofu, noodles, rice, seafood, veggies and a huge vegetarian menu guarantee that you’ll find just what you’re looking for.