Summer Guide 2009: Food and Drink

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Backyard-starved New Yorkers like nothing more than to eat and imbibe al fresco during warmer months. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite bars and restaurants that offer outdoor seating—be it on a patio, deck, sidewalk or rooftop. As summer is a good time to explore other neighborhoods, our selections extend far beyond the Upper East and West Sides.

10 Downing Food & Wine Embattled chef Jason Neroni triumphantly returns with this buzzy standout, crafting luxe renditions of rustic classics like cassoulet studded with duck meatballs and Provençal-style lamb chops. Sidewalk seating is a perk. (10 Downing St. at Sixth Ave., 212-255-0300)

230 Fifth One of the first big-name spots in NoMad (North of Madison Square Park), this rooftop bar—which also features a massive indoor space—might draw a stuffy crowd, but it can’t be beat as far as view and comfy deck chairs go. (230 5th Ave. betw. 26th & 27th Sts., 212-725-4300)

Ali Baba’s Terrace Turkish kebabs reach new heights at this Midtown grilled-meat purveyor’s rooftop deck. From your bird’s-eye perch, get rocked on anise-scented raki while gnawing well-charred lamb skewers. (862 Second Ave. at 46th St., 212-888-8622)

: Li’l Bit is a young adult, female dachshund who was recently rescued from a Missouri puppy mill. Photo by Christopher Appoldt; photo illustration by Monica Tang
: Li’l Bit is a young adult, female dachshund who was recently rescued from a Missouri puppy mill. Photo by Christopher Appoldt; photo illustration by Monica Tang

B. Café Small and cozy, the venue has a tasty selection of Belgian dishes and bottled brews. The kitchen prepares traditional Moules frites in five and has an extensive dessert carte. During warmer months, there are extra tables available in a small garden. (240 E. 75th St. betw. 2nd and 3rd Aves., 212-249-3300)

Back Forty Back’s casual backyard makes this seasonally influenced East Village diner a summery fave. Fried indulgences (pork-jowl nuggets, beer-battered onion rings) rub against roasted spring vegetables and grilled Catskills trout. (190 Ave. B betw. 11th & 12th Sts., 212-388-1990)

Bello Giardino The eatery is famous for its Mediterranean-inspired patio, covered by grapevines and decorated with flowers. Those who visit will find a traditional Italian menu, yet the signature dish of this well-known Italian restaurant is Chef Nick Mormando’s ravioli. (71 W. 71st St., near Columbus Ave., 212-875-1512)

Bohemian Beer Garden There’s no way to avoid it. At some point in your New York life a friend will celebrate his birthday at this massive outdoor sausage fest (really, they serve sausage!) and you will seem like a spoilsport for not wanting to go. It’s a long haul, but can be worth it if you get there early, make sure to eat something and remember how to get back to the subway. (2919 24th Ave. betw. 29th & 31th Sts., Queens, 718-274-4925)

Central Park Boathouse In the eastern end of the Central Park Lake, visitors can enjoy the sunset over the lake while drinking a glass of wine and eating seasonal dishes. There is also a outside grill and bar, with a small menu of light bites and cocktails. (E. 72nd St. & Park Drive North, 212-517-2233)

Cha Cha’s If yards of watery daiquiris aren’t your style, Cha Cha’s is one of the only places to have a drink at Coney Island. The outdoor seating on the boardwalk provides unparalleled people watching and access to the hot dogs at Nathan’s. There’s also Beer Island, a sandy outpost of Cha Cha’s with a huge selection of suds, just across the way. (1229 Boardwalk, betw. Stillwell Ave. & W. 12th St., Brooklyn, 718-946-1305)

d.b.a. This longtime East Village favorite, in addition to being home to dozens of beer-geek favorites and a serious selection of whiskey, has a charming backyard with a way more space to enjoy your $10 shot of Redbreast Irish whiskey than the generally packed inside. The newly opened Brooklyn branch has yet to get slammed, but the yard, and booze, is still just as nice. (41 1st Ave. betw. 2nd & 3rd Sts., 212-475-5097 and 113 N. 7th St., betw. Wythe Ave. & Berry St., Brooklyn, 718-218-6006)

The Delancey Despite its perch overlooking the Williamsburg Bridge, the rooftop at The Delancey manages to provide an escape from the hot, loud summer b.s. going on down at street level. Lush greenery, water features and plenty of seating make this the closest you’ll get to a resort without going above Houston. (168 Delancey St., betw. Clinton & Attorney Sts., 212-254-9920)

Elizabeth A gorgeous 50-seat garden with a retractable roof defines this Nolita spot serving affordable, classed-up comfort food like Chimay-battered fish and chips and cocktails strong enough to weaken your knees. (265 Elizabeth St. betw. Houston & Prince Sts, 212-334-2426)

Entwine The West Village welcomes this bi-level newcomer that is, by turns, a tavern, cocktail parlor, tasting room and outdoor garden (phew!), where diners can sip classic cocktails and snack on cured meats and cheeses. (765 Washington St., at 12th St., 212-727-8765)

Frying Pan We’re not boat people. We don’t even really cook that much. But for some reason the Frying Pan, a boat docked in Chelsea with a bar on it, appeals to us completely. (Pier 66, W. 26th St. at West Side Highway, 212-989-6363)

Gowanus Yacht Club For all the talk about South Brooklyn residents being more calm and cultured than their Williamsburg brethren, things at this Smith Street stalwart get pretty sloppy. Not so much a yacht club as a packed patio known for cheap pitchers of beer and low-end summer snacks (hello, boiled hot dogs!), this is still one of the most fun places in the area—as long as you snag a table. (323 Smith St. at President St., Brooklyn, no phone)

Hudson River Café You’d expect the noise of the elevated highway or the nearby trains to drown out any good times at this newish destination spot (next to the Uptown Fairway), but it’s actually the unending loudspeakers blaring jazz and other “lively” music. Sometimes, we’d rather be left in peace to have a conversation with our crew than to be relentlessly entertained. But that doesn’t mean you will regret the café’s $35 buffet brunch deal, which includes unlimited bellinis and mimosas. The Sunset Menu is also a deal: $22 three-course menu, Sun.-Wed. with half-price drinks. (697 W. 133rd St. at Riverside Dr., 212-491-9111)

Hudson Terrace Hundreds can pack into the two outdoor spaces in this West Side restaurant, which dishes up grilled corn, truffled edamame dip, lollipop chicken wings and sliders. If you’re looking for something boozier, drinks include sugary specialties like sangria and the passion fruit-flavored Bikini Martini. (621 W. 46th St. betw. 11th & 12th Aves., 212-315-9400)

I Coppi Looking for romance, Italian style? Forget Little Italy and hit this East Village eatery with a drawer-dropping backyard and a menu full of urban aphrodisiacs: brick-oven pizza, fig gelato and an out-of-this-world gnocchi with crab meat. Rarely crowded, this is the spot to bring your next great summer mistake. (432 E. 9th St. betw. Ave. A & 1st Ave., 212-254-2263)

Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden The sculpture terrace of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has one of the best-kept secrets in the city: a small bar that sells margaritas, mojitos and mixed drinks. The second best part is the view of the Central Park. (1000 5th Ave. at 82nd. St., 212-535-7710)

La Rural The Argentinean bistro hosts live tangos shows on the 29th of every month. To get the full Buenos Aires experience, sit in the backyard and chow down on grilled steak, chased by a good Malbec. (768 Amsterdam Ave. near 97th St. 212-749-2929)

Le Refuge This small French bistro, located in a 1868 townhouse, resembles a Normandy home. The menu has the perfect-crisped duck and an excellent selection of French wines. There is a backyard patio, framed by a white picket fence, where guests can eat if the weather allows it. (166 E. 82nd St. betw. Lexington and 3rd Ave., 212-861-4505)

Nougatine Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten presents a playful and flavorful menu, filled with his signature dishes. The restaurant is next to the famous Jean Georges and it offers guests outdoor dining. (1 Central Park West, Trump International Hotel, 212-299-3900)

One 83 This neighborhood favorite offers traditional yet chic Italian food. Head to the outdoor patio for a romantic Italian dinner, or to let your kids blow off steam during the warmer months. (1608 1st Ave. betw. East 84th & 85th Sts., 212-327-4700)

P&G The iconic Upper West Side bar has reopened its doors—as well as some outdoor space! Currently located on Columbus Avenue, six blocks from its original place on Amsterdam, the new P&G is three times as large as the old one. The new venue has a below-ground terrace and it will soon offer outdoor seating. (380 Columbus Ave. at 78th St., 212-874-8568)

Pier I Café Although it’s on the doorsteps of the icky Trump Towers, Pier I Café, at Riverside Park South, remains one of those places that you can enjoy a sunny afternoon with a beer and a burger—without being terrorized by children and the typical Boat Basin yahoos. Watch out for the cyclists; they can certainly get pushy as they commandeer tables. The Pat La Frieda burgers are the big, pleasing surprise here. It’ll cost ya more than $10, but the two-hander will more than fill you up, you have a choice of cheeses (the bleu, of course) and the herbed fries are great. (W. 70th St. at the Hudson River, 212-362-4450)

Sripraphai While Woodside’s famed Thai restaurant gets due accolades for its complex, incendiary curries and fried watercress salad, the destination’s leafy garden is another reason to take the quick 7-train trip. (64-13 39th Ave. at 64th St., Queens, 718-899-9599)

Tonda From the ashes of the East Village’s ill-fated E.U. comes this Neapolitan-style pizzeria serving individual-size pies (mmm… roasted egg–speck-asparagus) baked in a wood-burning oven. Weekends welcome a sidewalk brunch. (235 E. 4th St. at Ave. B, 212-254-2900)

Union Pool What the Cedar Tavern was to the Abstract Impressionists, Union Pool is to the Bohemian Impressionables. Boasting a taco truck in the humungous back yard, plenty of seating space, a fire pit for chilly nights and a space for live music, Union Pool is a smart stop to cram all of your Billyburg fun into one night. (484 Union Ave. betw. Meeker Ave. & Conselyea St., Brooklyn, 718-609-0484)

UVA Italian food and wine meet in a restaurant decorated with candelabras and chandeliers. The outdoor patio offers an intimate dining area framed by fences and flower boxes. (1486 2nd Ave. betw. 77th & 78th Sts., 212-472-4552)

Vince & Eddie’s This internal garden space is the perfect setting for a summer meal. The grilled Idaho Brook trout and the Guinness beef stew are among the best dishes at this eatery, which specializes in American comfort food. (70 W. 68th St., betw. Columbus Ave. and Central Park West, 212-721-0068)

Walter Foods Slurp oysters and vintage cocktails with equal vigor at this retro-styled Williamsburg gastropub serving a succulent French dip. Instead of the chic tiled dining room, hit the serene, spanking-new patio. (253 Grand St. betw. Roebling St. & Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, 718-387-8783)
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Inside the Truck

By Nick Broad

Mister Softee, the largest franchiser of soft ice cream trucks in the U.S., turns 53 this year. The company’s trucks are a complete ice cream stand on wheels, delivering treats via a high efficiency Electro Freeze soft serve machine. We spoke to Nick, a 17-year-old vendor parked near F.A.O. Schwartz and the Apple Store on East 59th Street, on his first day of work.

How long did you train? Just today. They said so far I’m doing good. They teach you about the prices and how to pour a cone, but it’s pretty easy. Still, I got a little messy today.

Do you like the jingle? Yeah [smiles].

Did you know there were lyrics? “The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream…” No, I never heard that before. I’ll have to go home and look it up later.

What’s your favorite flavor? Chocolate, definitely. Our biggest sellers are chocolate and vanilla cones. But I haven’t been eating much. You don’t have a quota for how much ice cream you can eat, but you kinda get sick of it after a while. You’ve got to taste it here and there to make sure the ice cream’s good.

Do you have a specific route, or do you decide where to drive? Yeah, there’s a route. Today I’m sitting right here. They’re checking up on me now and again. You go to a central garage to pick up the van. There are a lot more vans in New York than you can count.

Is working for Mister Softee like you thought it would be? This is actually my first day on the job, and I’m enjoying it. It’s a lot better—the sun is out, and I’m making money! You work from around 11 or 12 to about 7 or 8. It’s not that tiring, and I get to socialize, to meet new people, and it’s fun. What’s better than this?

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