Many New Yorkers can say they’ve been to Staten Island, but there’s a good chance they didn’t stay long. The free, 25-minute ferry ride, with its sweeping views of New York Harbor, Lady Liberty and Lower Manhattan, is the main draw, and many riders usually hop on the return ferry as soon as they reach St. George terminal.
Now, more than ever, there’s reason to stay for a while. The borough’s North Shore — the oldest, most densely populated and ethnically diverse section of the borough — boasts a revitalized waterfront, a strong artistic community and new restaurants.
Here’s how to make the most of that ferry ride.
Historically known as the “Watering Place” for its fresh springs, Tompkinsville might now be called the “Watering Hole” for its burgeoning brewery scene. Flagship Brewery has been crafting beers on-site since the summer of 2014. From the tap room, with its bar resting on vintage wooden barrels, you can see into the brewery, which has a dozen craft beers on tap ($6-$8; flights of four, $9).
“It feels like a real meeting place and less like a spot where you just go to drink and flirt,” says recent visitor Signa Swanson, 21, of Great Kills, sipping the blood-orange IPA. Communal tables and classic board games made it just the place to bring her mom. 40 Minthorne St.; Tompkinsville stop on the Staten Island Railway (SIR) or a 15-minute walk from the ferry; $5 brewery tours every Saturday
Big murals are a staple of this gritty but beautiful neighborhood, where the opening up of the waterfront and the addition of Urby, a 900-unit apartment complex, suggests it’s on the cusp of something new.
Along Bay Street is Paulie’s Pizzeria, an unpretentious place that prides itself on its thin-crust pies, including the margherita ($16), the arugula ($18) and the clam ($20). Owner Phil Errigo learned to make the house specialty, the meatball and rigatoni Sunday Sauce ($16), from his late dad, for whom the pizzeria is named. 500 Bay St.; S51/S76/S74 buses to Bay and Sands streets or SIR to Stapleton
For meatier fare there’s Surf, an American-style steakhouse whose prize dish is a 28-ounce, 30-day, dry-aged, double-cut, bone-in ribeye dubbed the Cowboy Steak ($90, with sides, serves two). For the less carnivorously inclined, there’s wood-fired mac-and-cheese ($10), watermelon salad ($16) and lobster ($36), along with cocktails ($14-$15) that go oh so well with the sea breeze. Thursday through Sunday, there’s even live music. 37 Navy Pier Court; SIR to Stapleton
Ethically sourced meats and cheeses? Organic and biodynamic wines? You’ll find them all at Vinum, an Italian wine bar and restaurant. Open just 22 months, it’s already racked up more than a few “Best of” awards, yet it’s unpretentious, and as charming and rustic as anything you’d stumble on in Tuscany. Gary and Marie D’Agosta, of Richmondtown, recently celebrated a birthday over grilled octopus ($16), cauliflower flan ($14) and heartier fare, washed down with vino ($9-$12). Pasta, including the gnocchi ($22) and black linguini ($25), are made in-house, and the Hunter’s Wild Game Board ($29), with its cuts of wild boar prosciutto and cacciatorini, is made for sharing. 704 Bay St.; S51/S76 to Bay and Broad streets or SIR to Stapleton
Hungry for art? Staten Island Arts has a gallery in the Urby complex, but the group hosts events beyond its walls: A recent tribute to “Working Girl” treated viewers to ’80s-style teases, like the film’s Staten Island heroine. Sweeter still: “Every single thing we do is free,” says director Elizabeth Bennett. 23 Navy Pier Court; SIR to Stapleton; ArtSpace Gallery open Thursday through Saturday
Stapleton Waterfront Park, the 6-acre space next to the Urby complex, is that rare New York City esplanade where you can amble freely without dodging strollers, joggers and tourists. Opened in 2016, this urban oasis was built on the site of the former Navy Homeport. Water Street; SIR to Stapleton, as well as many bus options leaving from the ferry terminal
Take a tour, take a class or simply take a stroll in the garden at Makerspace, a sprawling, industrial spread that’s a haven for hobbyists, artists, tinkerers and entrepreneurs. “Think of us as a Y with power tools,” says co-founder Scott Van Campen of his nonprofit artist-owned and -led community space. Classes include everything from “Intro to 3-D Printing” ($65-$75) to “Women, Welding and Wine!” ($250-$270). And there is even a nonprofit, streaming community radio station here — Maker Park Radio. Across the way is Maker Park. Once a litter-strewn lot, it’s now a sculpture garden with picnic tables and an apiary. 450 Front St.; SIR to Stapleton
Named for the prickly bushes that dotted this lovely neighborhood, Rosebank retains its old-world charm, thanks to its historic houses. One of them, the nationally landmarked Alice Austen House, dates to the 17th century. Named for the pioneering Victorian-era photographer who lived there, it showcases Austen’s work and life. The exhibit, “Collier Schorr: Stonewall at 50,” is up through September. The house sits on an acre of parkland, replete with a garden Austen planted a century ago. “Could you pick a better place to sit and talk?” says Rosebank resident Edward Rodriguez, 70, sitting with friends. “I mean, look at the view!” On Aug. 31, from 4 to 6 pm. the Staten Island Philharmonic will perform its free “British invasion” concert on the lawn, with music by Adele, the Beatles and Queen. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 2 Hylan Blvd.; $5
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