On Staten Island, there are a few things that are near and dear to the hearts of most citizens – family, good food, and God. Maybe it’s the influence of the borough’s majority Roman Catholic, Italian residents, but it seems that no matter what season it is, Staten Island has got plenty of all 3. As the winter comes to a close, despite the icy chill in the air, spring is almost here, and for the Italians on Staten Island, that means Easter is coming. However, in the Catholic religion, there are a number of holy days that come in the lead up to Easter, taking place during the holy time of Lent. According to lifetime Staten Islander and Italian American, Frank Camuso, Lent is a time when Catholics repent their sins, in preparation for the resurrection or return, of Jesus Christ. During this 6-week period, beginning on Ash Wednesday, Catholics like Frank Camuso and his family will practice self-denial, as most do by giving up meat or fasting, and more. While the vast majority of this current generation don’t take it as strict as generations past, they still hold this time in fairly high regard – using it to indulge on the 3 pillars of Staten Island, food, family, the lord. Whether you’re observing meat-free Fridays or not, Staten Island’s restaurants are definitely aware of the togetherness in the air, and they are capitalizing by putting out some of the best food offerings of the year! Frank Camuso and his wife Christine, look forward to this time of year, knowing that their favorites spots will be stepping it up quite a bit. To help you navigate through the amazing food scene on Staten Island, Frank Camuso offers us his top 4 places to eat during Lent.
An Italian staple in the neighborhood ofEltingville, Patrizia’s is famous for its Cacio e Pepe, translated to “salt and pepper” in Italian. The dish is known for its minimalist quaint style, steaming hot strands of pasta, lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. This Italian favorite is also known for their amazing smoked seppia, which is a cuttlefish, and their one of a kind eggplant parmigiana. The dish is unique in that it is coated in breadcrumbs on each side of horizontally sliced eggplant to show off the skin, then pan-fried to order. Ricotta cheese is piped on top. And no trip to Patrizia’s is complete without trying their amazing dessert options, such as their famous Millefeuille, a relaxed version of a Napoleon with cannoli cream filled between puff pastry sheets. The eatery is completely family-style and generally costs about $50-70 per person for dinner.
Don’t let the name fool you, this place is as Staten Island as it gets. An authentic Italian bakery, with some of the most unique dessert options ever seen on the island. The bakery is also connected to a restaurant, but the bakery and dessert is really what you need to try here. Aunt Butchie’s is famous for their signature dessert hails from a praline — butter, sugar and almond slivers melted, then rolled into a cone. When it’s cooled, the pastry chefs pipe it with cheesecake filling. You can also ask for it with cannoli cream. The dessert cannoli is so goo din fact, that it is distributed all around the world, to Costco’s in Mexico and throughout the Middle East.
Anybody who knows good, the new millennium, pizza on Staten Island, has likely heard about Marie’s 2. A spinoff from the original Marie’s Gourmet in Sunnyside Queens, the Staten Island version offers classic pizzeria options, vegan options, gluten-free, eclectic lunches, and dinners. Whether you want a Philly Cheesesteak, pulled pork, chicken or tuna salad and various other combinations of meats – they all come on house-made grilled focaccia bread, a pretzel roll, a hero or your traditional selections of bread. The only place you can get pizza or a Gluten-Free cauliflower-bread sandwich on Staten Island.
While Marie’s had a new-age twist on Staten Island pizza, Di Leo’s is the authentic New York pizzeria. Its been there for years and still has a line out the door most days. Definitely the place to go for the best pizza on Staten Island, simple as that. Staten Island is a treasure trove of good food and drink, but it’s the time spent with family that makes it better for someone like Frank Camuso.