As we near Father’s Day, the question on your lips should be W.W.D.W.: What Would Dad Want? Nothing too culinarily challenging, so you should forgo places with pheasant fritters and gruntfish carpaccio, and select instead a place with reassuring, recognizable food. Hey, how about a great view? And prices that will let him know you care, but won’t put you in the poorhouse. Here are a few suggestions:
The drive through Pelham Park is charming, and when you attain City Island, you’ll feel transported to another time and place. The elegant and well-padded dining room of Portofino (555 City Island Avenue, Bronx, 718-885-1220) boasts a view of Manhattan in miniature across Rodman’s Neck and Eastchester Bay. The food is much, much better than you’d expect on City Island, beginning with an amuse-gueule of crostini made with juicy red tomatoes, and finishing spectacularly with a free choice of cordials concocted cartside. An equally spectacular view is to be enjoyed at Giando (400 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-387-7000), a soaring glass box on the hardscrabble Brooklyn waterfront, with modestly priced pastas and an extra-thick veal chop. In a similar old-fashioned vein is Michael’s (2929 Avenue R, Brooklyn, 718-998-7851), where you’re likely to encounter a pianist. The room is kitschy and comfortable, and you and mom will feel like you’re in a ’60s movie.
Dining in Manhattan? Pepolino (281 West Broadway, 212-966-9983) is a good downtown choice, serving real Tuscan food made by refugees from Florence’s renowned Cibreo. The townhouse setting manages to look rustic, the tables are well spaced, and the staff will lavish plenty of attention on Papa. Another good pick, this time on the East Side, is Il Vagabondo (351 East 62nd Street, 212-832-9221). Tangled in the approaches to the Queensboro Bridge, it’s a townhouse with a trio of well-appointed dining rooms. The chef in the open kitchen sometimes breaks into song, and the red-sauced Neapolitan food is what you’d expect, and a little bit more. Finally, for comfort and the city’s most stately view, head for Gigino at Wagner Park (20 Battery Place, 212-528-2228), an arc of a building at the stately lower end of Battery Park City, directly facing the Statue of Liberty and offering a spa-friendly version of Tuscan with plenty of salads and and an exceptional wine list.