A Side Order of Sea Air in FiDi
The salt-kissed breezes of New York Harbor and the East and Hudson Rivers encourage alfresco dining, and many FiDi restaurants are happy to oblige. But it is not only eateries with a waterfront view that offer outdoor seating. You can also dine overlooking Wall Street or at a table set directly atop centuries-old cobblestone streets. Below is just a sampling of the alfresco options available.
55 Wall Street (between William and Hanover Streets), Second Floor
Catering to those who work rather than live in the Financial District, this Cipriani outpost is closed on weekends, but it is a regal space to enjoy drinks or dinner after work. If you cannot dine outdoors on the balcony among the towering Ionic columns looking out over Wall Street, the interior space is more than handsome enough to compensate, with lustrous wood walls and Venetian glass chandeliers hanging from the 13-foot-high ceilings. All the classic dishes are served: steak tartare, minestrone, fried calamari, grilled salmon, filet mignon. The freshly whipped vanilla ice cream is the ideal grace note to a meal. In addition to à la carte dishes, three-course fixed-price menus are available for both lunch and dinner.
90 Washington Street (between Joseph P. Ward and Rector Streets)
The vibe of Clinton Hall is almost the exact opposite of Cipriani Club 55’s white-tablecloth, hushed-served ambience. With metal beams supporting a corrugated metal roof, the huge outdoor space resembles a construction site, though the TVs, lights, and plethora of heavy-duty tables indicate that there is nothing temporary about the setup. Among the tables and seating are oversize Connect Four, chess, and Jenga sets, foosball tables, and Uno and Crimes Against Humanity card decks. The indoor space has a similar feel, with the same sort of communal tables and a sizable bar area surrounded by brick and wood walls. More than a dozen craft beers and ciders are on tap, with more available in bottles and cans. The cuisine is elevated bar food, though among the burgers, pulled pork, and buttermilk chicken, vegetarians can sink their teeth into a garden burger or a Greek salad.
20 Battery Place
You might expect a restaurant located in the public park at the lower tip of Manhattan to serve burgers, hot dogs, and fries. Gigino at Wagner Park confounds expectations, in the most elegantly delicious way. The fare is Tuscan, simply but beautifully prepared and presented. Start with bresaola served over arugula with mushrooms, cornichons, and truffle oil or with one of the many salads (the roasted beets with grilled zucchini, pickled giardiniera, and mushrooms is a cornucopia of color and texture). Whole-wheat and gluten-free options are available for most of the pasta dishes, which in keeping with the waterfront locale include several with seafood, including risotto alla pescatore. Shrimp and salmon prepared in numerous ways make up a significant portion of the entrees, complemented by the likes of chicken scaloppine and osso buco with lamb instead of the customary veal. You can savor your meal from a table in the shade of a large tent or just beyond in the sun; either way you will be able to watch ferries sail toward the Statue of Liberty. There is a small indoor dining room as well, for those who did not make a reservation and do not want to wait for an alfresco table.
70 South Street (between Wall Street and Maiden Lane)
Whether you are outdoors on Industry Kitchen’s terrace, which has the feel of a boardwalk furnished with deluxe picnic tables and the occasional couch, or inside looking out through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you can view the East River and the Brooklyn skyline as you dine. Even without the vistas, however, Industry Kitchen would be worth a visit for its pizzas, steaks, and seafood cooked its wood-burning oven. These include the Hot Apricot pizza, made with mozzarella, prosciutto, and honey Sriracha; braised lamb shanks in port wine sauce with saffron risotto; and grilled miso-marinated salmon with tomato, ginger, jalapeño, and pineapple salsa and soy seaweed salad. The Popsicle Gazpacho, an olio of mango, tomato, onion, cucumber, and ginger, is a lively way to start your meal, and the Pop Candy Land Pizza—a multicolor sugar-cookie crust topped with cream-cheese frosting, Pop Rocks, and cotton candy—a quirky way to end it. That particular pizza is also on the weekend brunch menu, along with more-sophisticated options such as chilled watermelon soup, a crab cake salad, and an omelet with lobster, tomato, asparagus, and fontina served with spicy hollandaise sauce and home fries.
24 Peck Slip (at Front Street)
Suteishi wins plaudits not just for its view of the East River—visible from inside as well as on the terrace—but also for its friendly service and impeccably prepared sushi and sashimi. Among its specialties are the tuna ravioli, with avocado, roe, and onion crema, and the Red Dragon, crunchy spicy tuna rolls topped with sliced tuna and a house-made spicy sauce. Among the vegetarian options are mixed-vegetable rolls and the Garden of Eden roll, featuring sweet-potato and taro tempura topped with avocado and spicy mayonnaise.
170 John Street (between FDR Drive and Front Street)
Located in the South Street Seaport, Trading Post has something for everyone. Starters encompass everything from Gruyère-topped onion soup to salmon poke to vegetable fritters; entrees include artichoke risotto, espresso-rubbed flat iron steak with chimichurri, and pappardelle in a a duck ragù. The list of libations is equally wide-ranging, from sangria to framboise lambic to Dom Pérignon. As enticing as lunch and dinner are, however, brunch may be the meal to beat. Start with iron-skillet cinnamon rolls, proceed to shrimp and grits, fried chicken and waffles, or eggs with biscuits and gravy, and share a Kentucky Maple Cider Pitcher, a potent concoction of Larceny bourbon, apple brandy, hard cider, and maple syrup, and your weekend is complete.
Stone Street Restaurants
Because Stone Street is closed to traffic, Route 66 Smokehouse and its neighboring restaurants can offer plenty of outdoor seating. Image: Route 66 Smokehouse/Ameilia A on Yelp
Sandwiched between Bridge and Beaver Streets and running from Broad to Whitehall Streets, the block-long Stone Street is closed to traffic. The restaurants and bars that line the block take advantage of this by setting up tables, tents, and string lights above the cobblestones. For classic Irish pub grub—Guinness stew, fish and chips, bangers and mash—washed down with Harp lager on tap, try the Dubliner, whose interior, incidentally, could have been lifted direct from a tavern alongside the River Liffey. Just a few doors down, Ulysses’ Folk House also offers Irish classics, along with live Irish music indoors on Saturday nights and rock bands on Thursday evenings. At Route 66 Smokehouse, the focus is on American craft beer and Southern food, from spicy deviled eggs and crispy oysters to smoked ribs and Texas brisket sandwiches. Many consider Adrienne’s Pizzabar to have the best pies in FiDi and among the best in the city, though you can also select classic pasta, chicken, and seafood dishes. Mad Dog & Beans will satisfy your cravings for burritos, chiles rellenos, enchiladas, grilled corn, and margaritas.