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May 14, 2007 08:22 PM

City Island recommendations?

Any recommendations for favorite places or dishes on City Island?

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  1. The quality of the food on City Island is like Manhattan's Little Italy. All of it is overpriced and none of it is very good. But if you are into downscale (but not cheap) fried stuff, try Johnny's Reef Restaurant at the very far end of CI. This place is fun and the food, while very unsophisticated (and artery clogging) can be quite tasty.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bobjbkln

      Haven't been out to City Island in years and years, but we used to go out often with my parents and grandparents (my father is Italian from the Bronx), and we ALWAYS used to eat at Arthur's, which was awesome, at least back then.

    2. Does anyone have any other thoughts on City Island eateries?

      1. We CI residents don't eat at the waterfront restaurants that line the avenue. Instead we like Artie's, on you left as you drive down CI Ave, for good fish and steak at reasonabloe prices. And The Black Whale, on the right, with a lovely garden, excellent American food and friendly service.

        5 Replies
        1. re: barry0112

          Any opinions on Carribean Island?

          1. re: gpcohen

            We haven't tried it, always looks empty.

            1. re: barry0112

              It had a big write up in the Times last weekend.

            2. re: barry0112

              Barry0112 - many years ago, I remember the Black Whale as a place that served only my memory faulty, or did they morph into a full service restaurant?

              There also used to be a place on the opposite side of the street that served only fondue - it was a great place to take a date........still there?

            3. Years ago I read about a bar (with some food) where clam diggers go. I cant remember the name and spent a lot of time vainly searching for it. It is on the water right near the west (Bronx) end of the island, it's basically a wood-paneled shack and offers boats for rent. They have a deer's head hanging on the wall and tell newcomers to go around the back of the building to see the rest of the deer sticking out.

              But now, thanks to Google, I found it within a half hour:
              Boat Livery (663 City Island Ave at Sutherland St; 718-885-1843)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Brian S

                Brian, I went to this place a few years, it's actually a bait shop with a bar set up in it, and by bar, I mean they have a cooler with beer in it...holy cow did we have a good time in this place!! The locals took us under their wing and got us way too drunk. THankfully no food served though...strong smell of blood worms or some such bait...this is not for everyone, but I absolutely adored it. And by the way, the locals I met told us that Arties was the only place worth going per Barry1120...

              2. Stay away from the Black Whale. The restaurant is understaffed, and the service is poor. The food is also mediocre.

                9 Replies
                1. re: FOOD IS LIFE

                  Give this place a second chance!! We've had nothing but nice experiences at the Black Whale..

                  1. re: FOOD IS LIFE

                    Best Sunday Brunch. Give them another chance!

                    1. re: billyparsons

                      I've yet to find outstanding food on City Island. Most restaurants seem to carry the standard overly fried seafood fare served in supersize.

                      The Black Whale has decent food that's sea-focused, but lighter and treated with a bit more care. It's a nice, quiet oasis away from the summer crowds that plague most of the island during the summer months. I agree that it's always understaffed but hey, isn't the point of going to CI to relax? The garden they have out back is quite nice, too. The highlight was discovering years back that they carried Lideman's raspberry beer.

                      I also like the CI Diner and the CI pub for low-key, landlubber food.

                      I've been to the Lobster box a few times. I found the prices to be inflated, the portions too large and the food mediocre at best. But the space is really nice with rooms overlooking the sound (beyond the parking lot).

                      And stay away from the Crab Shanty! Now that's a very scary place.

                      All in all, when visiting CI your best bet might be to pack a picnic.

                      1. re: yumyumyogi

                        I know every restaurant on City Island. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, Le Refuge Inn is great! If you don’t mind the “cafeteria” look, go all the way to the end of the Island and make a left; Johnnies Reef. Order the steamed snapper for $8, and a glass of white wine for $2.75 (tax incl). They’ll serve it to you scampi, lemon or with a touch of tomato. Healthy & delicious every time. It’s one of my little secrets as everyone thinks the place is only famous for fried food. And for you Pina Colada lovers, where else can you get a 12 oz pina colada with 2 oz of Hennessy for $6? Their alcohol prices are actually very funny and they’re 100% legit with the bottles (no marrying or substituting).

                        Portofino is still pretty good. I went to JP’s once and had a chicken parmigiana sandwich that left me dehydrated for three days (I should have asked for salt on the side and used it to rid the driveway of snow this winter). Wow that place is bad, really bad. Lobster Box lost it’s touch. Sammy’s Shrimp Box & Fish Box are probably just a touch below JP’s. They could care less about taste and quality, just quantity. And by the way, Sammy’s re-serves the olive and vegetable medley again and again. How they still get away with it, I have no idea.

                        As for Crab Shanty, I can’t understand how they get the weekend crowds they do. It’s all overpriced artery clogging fried food. Arties is borderline decent. The owner of Arties also owns Mighty Joe Young in Scarsdale.

                        It’s fun sometimes to go here:

                        and check out the health inspection reports. Seafood City was almost shut down once for actually taking uneaten food off of tables and reserving it. Couldn’t they wait for the health inspector to leave before pulling a stunt like that?

                        And the next time anyone is on the Island, go to the Villamena Pizzeria and just pick up a pepperoni pinwheel. They’re a buck a piece and delicious. But if it’s Pizza you’re after, your better off going to the City Island Deli. Their pizza is actually better then the pizzeria’s stuff. The owner of the Deli, Augie (great guy), also owns “Fella’s”, the bar next door. So as you wait for your slice, you can grab a cold one next door.

                        Resist the urge for ice cream at Lickity Split. It’s next to the park and has failed its health inspections more times than I can count. I won’t post the reasons here because they’re generally nice people but that doesn’t excuse rat droppings from ending up in ice cream cones. Darn-it, that slipped, sorry.

                        1. re: billyparsons

                          Thanks for all the info, esp the insight about Johnny's Reef...

                          1. re: prunefeet

                            Hey Prune...

                            Here's a picture of the inside of Johnnies. So you know what to expect.

                            1. re: billyparsons

                              I just want to put my two cents in....I went to Johnny's a few weeks ago after searching posts on this site and I thought it was disgusting. I feel bad for dissing a restaurant. I love hole in the walls, street food, etc soI thought this would be good. I thought it was greasy, had no flavor and just plain gross. I was really disappointed becasue I had really fond memories of meals on City Island as a small child. Maybe the aforementioned steamed snapper is good but I do not recommend the fried lobster or shrimp and the atmosphere is beyond is dirty and noisy.

                              1. re: lorilaw


                                I'm glad I posted that pic. I think the pic says it all. I don't eat fried food so I can't comment on that. All I do there is eat the steamed snapper, sole or lobster tails. Sometimes, a dozen raw clams for $10 hits the spot.

                                Also, you can't go on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon. The people that patronize Johnnies are not locals. I can't really get further into that but I do think, judging from your post, that you know "exactly" what I mean.

                              2. re: billyparsons

                                Thanks Billy, I actually have taken a look before. I'm not expecting anything good really. But friends have had fun there, and as I have already spent time with locals, I don't feel bad about checking it out, whether or not there are undesirables present or not. Perhaps I am one too!