Remember how I mentioned that people love to tell me where I must eat when I travel?
Well, The Wharf in New York‘s Rockaway Beach is certainly not one of those places.
Check it out, yes — I definitely heard that. With its outdoor dining deck with sweeping views of the water and Manhattan’s skyline in the distance, The Wharf’s vista for a sunset cocktail can’t be beat. But eat? We had read and heard enough about the food to know there were probably better restaurants in Rockaway Beach.
Even so, on a recent evening, as our cocktails on that famous deck were disappearing, the vaunted view was nudging us to stay.
How bad could the food truly be? We decided to find out …
Now, if you’re going to try The Wharf for dinner, I suggest getting there as early as you can from 6 p.m. on. As you inch closer to sunset, the place gets packed.
Nonetheless, we lucked out and snagged a table with a terrific view. (That’s Freedom Tower to the left in the distance and the Empire State Building to the right.)
The menu is a basic one, filled with fish, steaks, pastas, burgers and a host of sandwiches and salads. As tempting as some of it sounded, when you’ve been warned about the food, the less adventurous you get, the better it is, I find.
So we started safe, splitting an order of quintessential bar food: Mozzarella sticks.
These came hot, crispy and were perfectly pedestrian — nothing unusual, which was good.
The sun was really putting on a show for us now, so we decided to chance it with more food.
Fish and chips seemed basic enough — and it certainly was. The fries were fine and the fish — though a little thin and bland for my taste — came hot and crispy, which was all I had expected, really.
The “fish on a bun” sandwich, however, was a pleasant surprise — the fish was nicely fried, with a juicy flaky center, giving it no hint at all of having once been frozen.
Our meal worked out so nicely — and didn’t inflict us with any ailments overnight — that we decided to head back for brunch the next day. The view’s the thing at the beach after all — so, why not?
Weekend brunch turned out to be a lovely deal — for the price of the dish, you got coffee or tea, toast and either a Bloody Mary, Screwdriver or Mimosa. Not bad at all.
Especially since this perfectly decent platter of pancakes and sausages with fries only cost $8.95.
My massive pile of steak and eggs was a little pricier — $12.95 — but it was still a great price, all things considered.
Would we go back? Absolutely. (We did have two meals in a row there, after all.)
Next time, I might even get more adventurous and order a grilled cheese.
The Wharf, 416 Beach 116th Street, Belle Harbor, N.Y.; 718.474.8807; https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wharf-Bar-Grill/127787763929043