Members’ Best Bets for the Big Apple

Posted August 27, 2004 at 4:29pm

New York City has no shortage of must-see destinations, but what if you want to live like a local while in town for the Republican National Convention? The city’s Congressional delegation is here to help.

As a service to readers during this week’s convention, Roll Call asked Representatives of the New York City area to lend their expertise on the best of the Big Apple. Presented here are their recommendations for what to eat, where to drink and what to see while in town.

REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D)

If you want to taste “the best food in New York, let alone the world,” Ackerman recommends getting “out of Manhattan and visiting the city’s outer boroughs, particularly Queens. The area, which is home to the greatest diversity and array of cultures in the nation, features clusters of virtually every type of ethnic restaurant,” Ackerman says.

“For outstanding East Asian food, take the 7 train to New York’s new Chinatown in the Queens community of Flushing. The area, more authentic than the touristy Chinatown in Lower Manhattan, also boasts the finest Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.”

For a taste of South Asia, Jackson Heights, Queens features “outstanding Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani restaurants,” Ackerman adds.

“For Greek food, visit Astoria, the largest Greek community outside of Athens. The area, which includes numerous authentic eateries, is located just across the East River from Manhattan.

“Want dishes from South and Central America? Visit Roosevelt Avenue in Corona and Elmhurst. And while the nation of Jamaica serves outstanding Caribbean food, the Queens neighborhood of Jamaica offers it even better.

“If you are attempting to keep kosher during the convention, the Orthodox community known as Kew Gardens Hills offers far more establishments than Manhattan. Just remember that naturally, they’re closed Friday night and Saturday and reopen Saturday night one hour after sundown.

“But these Queens, New York, communities don’t just offer fine dining. They also feature exciting nightlife. From Greek dancing halls to Latin nightclubs to Irish pubs, you can find it all in these respective communities.”

REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D)

Favorite restaurant: The Jackson Diner, 37-47 74th St., Queens; (718) 672-1232. This Indian buffet has been touted as one of New York’s best. But remember to stop at the ATM before walking in, as it is a cash-only establishment.

Favorite spot: The Bronx Zoo, located at Bronx River Parkway and Fordham Road; (718) 367-1010; www.bronxzoo.com. There are various entry points depending on your mode of transportation. Check the Web site for detailed directions.

The New York Botanical Garden, located at Bronx River Parkway and Fordham Road, Bronx; (718) 817-8700; www.nybg.org.

Off the beaten path: City Island, located in the north Bronx, offers a wide variety of seafood restaurants that line both sides of City Island Avenue; www.cityisland.com.

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D)

Favorite restaurant: Harvest on the Hudson, 1 River St., Hastings on Hudson; (914) 478-2800. Fine Italian cuisine with vegetables picked fresh from the restaurant’s garden. Make sure to call ahead if you wish to dine there, however; reservations are needed.

Favorite bar: Rory Dolan’s, 890 Mclean Ave., Yonkers; (914) 776-2946. Rory Dolan’s boasts an impressive bar constructed by six master carpenters from Ireland and 17 televisions so you can follow all the day’s sports.

Off the beaten path: Engel recommends that visitors to New York go antiquing and see a show at the Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack (123 Main St., Nyack; (845) 358-6333). He also suggests visiting Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo and the Bronx Botanical Gardens.

REP. VITO FOSELLA (R)

Favorite restaurant: While in Staten Island, Fossella recommends eating at La Fontana (2879 Amboy Rd.; (718) 667-4343) for authentic Italian cuisine. If you’re in the mood for pizza and in Brooklyn, try Gino’s Restaurant and Pizzeria (7414 5th Ave.; (718) 748-1698).

Off the beaten path: Those interested in the history of the American Revolution should check out Conference House in Staten Island (7455 Hyland Blvd.; (718) 984-2086; $1 for children, $2 for adults). After New York fell to the British, Ben Franklin and John Adams met there with a British envoy for peace talks. Brooklyn’s John Paul Jones Park (Cannonball Park to the locals) is another great spot to see some history (Fourth Avenue and 101st Street).

Must-see spot: If you have time to go on a hike this week, make sure you check out Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island (the end of Bay St.; (718) 354-4500). Also try to swing by the 69th St. Pier in Brooklyn while you are in town.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D)

Favorite restaurants: Maloney is “proud to say that three of the most famous delis” in New York City are “located in the 14th Congressional district.”

If you hope to bump into a celebrity, make sure to check out the Carnegie Deli (854 7th Ave.; (212) 757-3012) as Woody Allen and many other famous faces regularly eat there. Katz’s Delicatessen (205 E. Houston St.; (212) 254-2246) is a frequent “stop on the presidential campaign trail, having hosted several presidents over the years.” Last, but not least, is the Second Avenue Deli (156 2nd Ave.; (212) 677-0606), “one of the most famous genuine kosher delis in the world.”

Greek cuisine is a favorite of Maloney. She recommends checking out Telly’s Taverna (2813 23rd Ave.; (718) 728-9056) in Astoria, Queens, across the East River from Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Also in Astoria is Stamatis (3114 Broadway; (718) 204-8964), a “personal favorite” of the Representative.

Must-see spots: Although “not nearly as famous or as large as the world-class Bronx Zoo,” Maloney suggests checking out the Central Park Zoo. A special treat is the feeding of the lions, which occurs at 11:30 a.m., 2 and 4 p.m. daily. Guided tours are offered at 2:30 p.m.

If art is your fancy, go from the Central Park Zoo to the Frick Collection (1 East 70th St.; (212) 288-0700), which houses works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Goya and Degas.

History buffs should visit the Fraunces Tavern (54 Pearl St.; (212) 425-1776), where George Washington delivered his farewell address to his officers in the continental army before “heading south to his second career as our nation’s first president.”

REP. MAJOR OWENS (D)

Favorite restaurant: The River Café, 1 Water St., Brooklyn; (718) 522-5200; www.rivercafe.com. Citysearch.com reports this restaurant, located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, features “sophisticated fare unified by its focus on fish.”

Must-see spots: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn; (718) 638-5000; www.brooklynmuseum.org.

Owens also recommends the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, located at the main entrance of Prospect Park by the intersection of Flatbush Ave., Eastern Parkway and Prospect Park West. The plaza is a memorial to soldiers who defended the Union in the Civil War. An art gallery is located inside the 80-foot arch that marks the park entrance.

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D)

Favorite restaurants: Rangel has a number of suggestions for those interested in more ethnic fare. Mobay (17 W. 125th St. between Lenox and Fifth avenues; (212) 828-3400) features an impressive menu of barbecue and Caribbean dishes.

Those in the mood for Creole should visit Bayou (308 Lenox Ave., between 125th and 126th streets; (212) 426-3800), which serves authentic New Orleans-style food and tries to deliver “something extra” for each customer.

Rancho Jubilee (1 Nagel Ave. and 196th St.; (212) 304-0100) delivers a taste of the Dominican, and Piatto d’Oro (349 E. 109th St., between First and Second avenues; (212) 828-2929) is the place to go for Italian, according to Rangel.

Off the beaten path: Another restaurant tops Rangel’s list of undiscovered spots. Sylvia’s (328 Lenox Ave., between 126th and 127th streets; (212) 996-0660) serves delicious soul food at a great price. It can get very busy, however, so if your stomach craves fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, make sure to make reservations.

Rangel also suggests a trip to Terrace in the Sky (400 W. 119th St.; (212) 666-9490). Located atop Columbia University’s Butler Hall, diners are treated to an amazing view of Manhattan while they feast on French Mediterranean cuisine.

REP. JOSE SERRANO (D)

Favorite restaurant/bar: Serrano recommends visiting Joe’s Place (1841 Westchester Ave.; (718) 918-2947) if you are in the Bronx. He also suggests checking out the “real Little Italy” in the Arthur Avenue district to get a taste of some great authentic Italian cuisine.

Must-see spot: Avid baseball fans should try their hardest to attend a game in Yankee Stadium during the convention. The Bronx Bombers open up a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, and then play American League East rival Baltimore Orioles Friday through Sunday.

Off the beaten path: The New York Botanical Garden.

REP. EDOLPHUS TOWNS (D)

Favorite restaurants: Peter Luger Steak House, 178 Broadway, Brooklyn; (718) 387-7400; www.peterluger.com.

Tavern On The Green, Central Park West at W. 67th St., Manhattan; (212) 873-3200; web.tavern onthegreen.com. Reservations are strongly recommended and required on Friday and Saturday evenings and for Sunday brunch.

Oceana Restaurant, 55 E. 54th St., Manhattan; (212) 759-5941; www.oceanarestaurant.com.

The River Café, 1 Water St., Brooklyn; (718) 522-5200; www.rivercafe.com.

REP. NYDIA VELAZQUEZ (D)

Favorite restaurants: Velázquez says visitors should head to Five Front (5 Front St.; (718) 625-5559) in Brooklyn. The restaurant’s food is “simple” but “terrific,” according to NewYorkMetro.com.

Velázquez also recommends checking out the River Café (1 Water St., Brooklyn; (718) 522-5200).