Staten Island Dining
by Julie Besonen, 07/31/2013
Blue. Photo: Joe Buglewicz
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11 Schuyler St., 718-816-8162, St. George, Staten Island
1115 Richmond Terrace, 718-273-7777, Randall Manor, Staten Island
Kissing plays a prominent role at Beso (which is Spanish for "kiss"), a dark, sexy restaurant with vintage movie posters referencing the act as well as an occasional couple stealing a smooch at a shadowy corner table. Since it's just up the hill from the St. George ferry terminal, an after-work crowd gathers at the convivial bar for pitchers of margaritas or white peach sangria. The Spanish-Mexican menu features tapas-style small plates, including tender grilled lamb chops in smoky chili vinaigrette, lobster enchiladas and littleneck clams simmered in briny lobster broth. Dinner gets more ambitious with grilled sea bass on a cedar plank, and saffron-infused, seafood-heavy paella studded with chorizo.
Beso chef and owner Julian Gaxholli is also behind the popular Cajun-Creole Bayou and more recently, Blue, a Mediterranean waterfront lounge and restaurant with manicured grounds and a dressy crowd. Look for rich seafood bisque, chicken tagine and Sunday clam bakes ($25 for three courses) along with views of passing tugboats. Blue is also appealing for its proximity to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. This picturesque complex was once a sailors' retirement community and now houses the Staten Island Children's Museum and Noble Maritime Collection, among other attractions.