Eating on the Edge: City Island
Endless Simmer’s NYC-based tasting team is bypassing the cutesy outer borough neighborhoods and taking the subway to the end of the line, then getting on a bus and taking that to the end of the line, then seeing what we can find to eat.
This week’s destination — City Island — is seriously the edge-edge-edge of New York City. It’s kind of like an adorable New England fishing village, except it’s actually in The Bronx, retains just a smidge of that New York City grime, and you can get there on the MTA bus. Take the 6 train all the way to the end of the line, then hop on the Bx29 bus, which takes you across a bridge onto this amazing little island where they’ll deep-fry anything that swims. Just hope this fish isn’t too local.
Since we came this far, we figured we might as well go all the way to the water’s edge, where Tony’s Pier offers lunch at picnic tables right on the sound. As you can see, inside NYC or not, they’ve got pretty much the whole nine yards when it comes to summer-y fried seafood. Yes, even frog’s legs, which I’m pretty sure I disapprove of eating anywhere outside of Paris, but definitely in The Bronx.
Instead I went with the pretty perfect fried clam strips meal. Most excitedly, it turns out Tony’s has pioneered a new form of serving a five-course meal. I call it the slow reveal. This looks like just a giant pile of fried clams, with a super-sad side salad thrown in for good measure, right? Wrong!
Eat a couple of clams and you find out there’s a whole package hidden under there — it turns out to be a pretty decent mayo-y cole slaw.
Take a couple more bites and you see they’ve hidden some fries in there, too.
For good measure, that’s a juicy pickle hanging out at the bottom of it all — not placed on top for a crisp start, but underneath everything so it soaks up all the associated greasiness before you even get to it. Yum. What a fun way to eat!
And yep, those are saltines on the side, for all of you who were worried there weren’t enough carbs present in this meal. I’m really not sure what you’re supposed to do with those, as there is no hidden chowder anywhere. Break them up and crumble them on top of your clams? At this point I’m thinking they might have just thrown in everything lying around their kitchen.
Since that clearly wasn’t enough food, we ordered up a platter of seriously gigantic oysters. On the side, that’s a $5 pina colada in a plastic cup. We visited in the afternoon, but I’m told City Island gets pretty crazy on Saturday nights — no surprise, as that PC was about 75-percent rum.
Tony’s vegetarian option
I can’t say yet how Tony’s Pier measures up to the other fried seafood options in City Island (Johnny’s Reef — right next door — gets good reviews), but for an out-of-NYC experience without actually leaving NYC, City Island is totally worth the trek.
Previously: Eating on the Edge: Howard Beach