The Best Restaurants On Staten Island

Whether you’re taking the ferry on a Saturday or just looking for something good to eat on your way home, check out these spots.
The clam pie at Denino's.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Some call Staten Island “the forgotten borough.” It’s both a rude thing to say, and ultimately confusing. The island perfected those thin-crust pizzas you know and love, and also people talk about Pete Davidson an unhealthy amount, and he was born here. If you’re looking for something great to eat on SI, whether that be the aforementioned Italian food, a Sri Lankan buffet, or tacos that are larger than any version you’ll find in the four other boroughs, use this guide.


photo credit: Willa Moore

Sri Lankan

Staten Island

$$$$Perfect For:BrunchBYOB
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On a recent visit to Lakruwana’s all-you-can-eat, BYOB, $20.99 weekend buffet, we observed a table of men washing down bites of pork curry with whiskey and coke at 12pm, and we wondered why we spend weekends doing anything else. There's often a line for lunch at this Stapleton Heights spot, but once you get a table you will be faced with one and a half hours of pure, unadulterated buffet time. Fill up your plate with Sri Lankan dishes like egg curry, deviled chicken, dal, and a particularly great but easy-to-miss, melty eggplant, which is usually towards the end of the line of warm clay pots. Lakruwana is also open during the week for a la carte dining.

Do you live under a rock (Manhattan) and only know the East Village location of Joe & Pat’s? Should that be the case, let us provide you with a little history lesson: long before Joe & Pat’s opened on 1st Avenue, it existed on Staten Island, in Castleton Corners. The year was 1960, so if we do the math there, they’d been perfecting their thin-crust, Staten Island-style pies for 58 years before they made their Manhattan move. If you call yourself a diehard fan of the vodka pizza (one of the best pies in NYC), you owe it to yourself to try it straight from the source. Round out your order with some baked clams and chicken parm.

photo credit: Willa Moore

One taco at Taqueria El Gallo Azteca in St. George is the size of three typical tacos, or approximately 12 bites. They cost $4.13 (except for the special steak and nopales taco, which costs $4.60) and if the industrial-grade pot full of pork bubbling away behind the cashier doesn't make it clear, you should try something pig-related here. Order carnitas and pastor, and the torta Cubana with five different types of meat on it—including pork, of course—because even though the tacos are plenty big on their own, you’re here and the torta is also excellent, so why wouldn’t you try it? Supersized tacos deserve to be eaten sitting down—grab a table and admire the paintings on the blue walls. 

A disclaimer: you won’t find this Mexican-Vietnamese food truck on Staten Island every day. It’s usually on Port Richmond Avenue on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—but check their Facebook for updates. Order a clear Solo cup brimming with ceviche mixto, scoop it into your mouth with tortilla chips on the sidewalk, and then grab a sugar-dusted donut filled with rice pudding, and maybe a hot bowl of pho for the road. If you're in the area on a Tuesday and miss the truck, we're sorry and we wish you better luck next time.

The term “ladies who lunch” was probably created around 2pm on a Friday at Royal Crown Bakery in Dongan Hills, when the bridge clubs of Staten Island fill the covered patio area in front and share plates of shrimp parmesan and caesar salad. Grab a table, order sausage and broccoli rabe pasta, and tell your dining partner to kindly shut up so you can hear what exactly Trisha did. Or just head to their take-out deli area and order a vodka chicken parm hero to go—it will be a glistening, saucy beauty, just with slightly less drama. Royal Crown also has a bakery where you can pick up some tiramisu or Italian cookies.

This counter-service Sri Lankan spot in Tompkinsville opens at 10am. But if you arrive around noon, there’s a chance you’ll be be too early for lunch. The owner, Viji, will appear from the kitchen and tell you to come back in 30, when lunch is ready. And if her promises of goat curry and mango lassi aren’t enough, then trust us—you must come back. When you return, Viji will present you with things like tender beef curry, almost-translucent roti, and dal that tastes like it went to an all-inclusive spa and relaxed into a steamy pile of well-hydrated lentils. She’ll also bring to-go containers, for all the leftovers that are going to greatly improve your week.

Lee’s Tavern is another place that makes excellent Staten Island-style pizzas. Come to this Dongan Hills spot on a weekend afternoon, grab a seat at the bar next to a group of regulars who are here every week for the game, and order a pitcher and a few pies. Like Denino’s, they’re known for their clam pie, and if you are a bivalve skeptic, just try one bite of crunchy crust and chewy clam sprinkled with parsley and then we can talk. But now that we've gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss the Buffalo calamari. It's exactly what it sounds like—fried calamari, crispy-gone-soggy in spicy Buffalo sauce, with blue cheese for dipping. The combination works shockingly well, and you might look at all chicken wings like imposters for the rest of your life.

Enoteca Maria is the nonna restaurant. If that means nothing to you, it's a place in St. George where grandmothers are the chefs, and you should call for a reservation if you want to bear witness to one of the most wholesome operations this city has to offer. They’re open from Friday to Sunday, and there's a head nonna who's always there, making Italian food. Other grandmothers make food from wherever they’re from (check the calendar for details). On a recent visit, we had Peruvian ceviche by Rosa, and Nonna Yumi made Japanese eggplant—they both tasted comforting, like something you’d eat in a home setting except you can keep your shoes on.

You will leave Denino’s having consumed several pitchers of domestic beer, and likely an entire clam pie, because the crust is cracker-thin—thinner than whatever you picture when you think of thin crust—and goes down easy with Budweiser. When you stop by this big, sit-down pizza place on Port Richmond Avenue, the long tables will be full of a bunch of kids in soccer uniforms celebrating a big win with a bunch of cheese pies, and a few meatball heroes. It’s not a fancy place, but the pizza is exceptional. If you’re not even sure you like clam pie, all you have to do is go to Denino’s.

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