Must-See Coney Island
by nycgo.com staff, 05/28/2013
Gargiulo's. Photo: Julienne Schaer
More Coney Island Eats
2911 W. 15th St., 718-266-4891
1215 Surf Ave., 718-676-2630
1001 Boardwalk, 718-449-4252
Ruby's Bar & Grill
1213 Boardwalk, 718-975-7829
1229 Boardwalk, 718-942-4200
1524 Neptune Ave., 718-372-8606
You won't have any trouble finding a bite to eat in Coney Island, where hot dog, gelato and even empanada vendors are accessible every few planks on the boardwalk (dependable standby Paul's Daughter, for example, peddles such seaside staples as funnel cake, oysters, and hand-cut french fries). But if you prefer to eat sitting down (on a chair, not on the sand), there are plenty of options. The atmosphere is lively at Ruby's Bar & Grill, a boisterous watering hole and eatery with a view of the sea. "No shirt, no shoes, no service" is decidedly not the rule here, where shirtless men and swimsuit-clad women frequently come straight in from the bench and make a beeline for the bar. Patrons seated at communal tables happily guzzle draft beers from plastic cups and gobble classic Coney fare like corn dogs, hot sausages and pizza. The institution has been around since 1934, and its bar and ceiling are made partially out of old wood from the boardwalk; co-owner Michael Sarrel estimates they have 10,000 square feet of the stuff.
For hard-core pizza fans, there's Totonno's further inland. Since 1924, it's been serving Neapolitan treats (by the pie only), which some New Yorkers call the best in the City. For almost 90 years, says owner Louise Ciminieri, "the place is the same and the pizza is the same." It's this consistency that led the James Beard Foundation to declare the place one of "America's Classics." Another acclaimed New York City pizzeria, Grimaldi's—best known for its location under the Brooklyn Bridge—also boasts a branch on Surf Avenue, not far from the Cyclone. Tom's Restaurant, meanwhile—a Prospect Heights institution and a breakfast favorite for many Brooklynites—operates an outpost on the boardwalk, peddling not only its famous flavored pancakes but also some beach-appropriate seafood.
Finally, on West 15th Street, diners will find Gargiulo's, whose majestic dining room features very high ceilings, fish tanks in the back and a relaxing classical soundtrack. The restaurant serves homemade Italian fare including seafood and pasta, and has been in Coney Island for 106 years.