When you hear the words “Staten Island,” it’s possible you conjure an image of Pete Davidson giving you the middle finger, suburban topiaries, or a highway in between Brooklyn and New Jersey. But in reality, you should adjust that thinking. Spend an afternoon in the borough you might sometimes forget about, and you’ll see that Staten Island is more than an efficient route to Montclair, New Jersey. Plus, Pete Davidson already gets way too much of society’s attention for no apparent reason. Here’s the agenda.
Riding the Staten Island ferry alone is an essential New York activity. Catch the ferry at the very bottom of Manhattan (at Whitehall Street). It’s completely free, and runs 24/7. Makes sure to wave hello to that statue lady in the middle of the New York Harbor. She must get so lonely out there.
Stop One: Breweries & $3 Used Books
From the ferry terminal, walk about 15 minutes to Flagship Brewing (you can also get on the SIR for one stop, it’s the only subway line in the borough). This brewery was started by two neighbors who grew up on Staten Island, and they invent a bunch of creative flavors, like lemon ice beer made in collaboration with Ralph’s - a famous Staten Island-based Italian Ice shop with locations around NYC. In case you want to try the only other Staten Island brewery taproom, you can check out Kills Boro nearby. Just know they don’t open until 5pm (Flagship Brewing opens at noon).
There’s a used bookstore called Every Thing Goes across the street from Flagship Brewing They have a backyard full of garden gnomes and peace flags, and sell chocolate bars, locally-made art, old comic books, and records. Every Thing Goes is open from noon to 6pm Wednesday through Saturday.
Stop Two: A Sri Lankan Grocery Store & Godamba Roti In The Park
You may have heard about Staten Island’s abundance of excellent thin-crust pizza (if you haven’t, scroll down), but you should also know that the borough has one of the highest concentrations of Sri Lankan restaurants in the city. Walk around Little Sri Lanka, which spans Victory Boulevard and Bay Street, and stock up some Sri Lankan lemon puffs and pol sambol at Lanka Grocery.
Of all the restaurants in this area (like Randiwa, Ceylon Curry, and New Asha - which are all open for takeout), Lakruwana is the only place with outdoor dining available. Stop by their decorated sidewalk patio on Bay Street for dinner or weekend lunch outside, or bring your order of heart-shaped godamba roti and vegetable lamprais wrapped in banana leaves to a park around the corner full of public art. It’s run by the Makerspace lab across the street and has a bunch of murals, picnic benches, and statues concocted out of recycled PVC pipe and old buoys.
Stop Three: Ice Cream On The Water
Finish the day with a sundae from Staten Island’s oldest ice cream institution, Egger’s. They have three locations around the island, but the closest one to the ferry and Little Sri Lanka is in Stapleton. Plus, it’s right next to the waterfront, so you can walk around the piers with your double scoop of cherry vanilla and look out at Brooklyn and Manhattan from an angle you’ve possibly never seen before. No matter the season, this is still enjoyable.
Bonus Stop: Staten Island's Best Pizza
If you’ve never tried any Staten Island pizza, you should add a stop to acquaint yourself with the borough’s best pies. Our three favorites are Joe & Pats in Castleton Corners, Denino’s in Elm Park, and Lee’s Tavern in Dongan Hills. They all have outdoor dining available, and you’ll need to take a car or the SIR to get to them from the ferry. Find more on what exactly makes these thin crust pies so special (and what to order) here.