When a buddy just lately heard that I used to be planning a visit to Metropolis Island, which is related to the Pelham Bay part of the Bronx by a small bridge, she requested, “Are you going to Tony or Johnny?” On the southern tip of Metropolis Island Avenue—the principle thoroughfare, which runs the size of the slender terrain for a couple of mile and a half—you will discover two mid-century-era seafood eating places, Johnny’s Reef and Tony’s Pier. With apologies to both of the loyalists of both (Mike Bloomberg is a identified Johnny’s man), they’re virtually similar: each counter service, with a charmingly retro system of ordering that is just like Katz’s Deli, Through which the assorted stations (uncooked, steamed, steamed, fried, frozen tiki drinks), and each with ample out of doors picnic-table seating—beware the hungry gals.
Johnny and Tony are undoubtedly value a go to, however rather a lot has modified on Metropolis Island. I had a unique vacation spot in thoughts: Seafood Kings 2, which opened in February. Because the identify suggests, that is second place; The primary is in St. Albans, Queens, and was opened within the fall of 2019 by the Lely household, whose patron, Darryl, is a veteran chef of acute-care-hospital kitchens, and a local of the Bronx. If a landlocked part of Queens looks as if an unlikely place for a seafood restaurant, the household would agree, Darryl’s son, Darrell, instructed me the opposite day. However he took an opportunity on an empty pizzeria and noticed dividends throughout the pandemic’s first 12 months, because of an enormous demand for takeout. (It’s a matter of satisfaction for the household that their meals travels nicely and is reheated nicely the subsequent day.)
The success of Seafood Kings in Queens was sufficient to satisfy Darryl’s longtime dream: to open a restaurant on Metropolis Island. Till the late sixties, there have been no black householders on the island. As a young person within the eighties, Darryl, who’s black, was generally chased away by white residents when he tried to experience his bike throughout the bridge. With a inhabitants of simply over 4 thousand, the island remains to be majority white, and has an unpleasant historical past of racism. Nonetheless, Darryl and his spouse, Katrina, have at all times cherished it there; Darrell remembers childhood visits to JP’s, a restaurant on the north finish of the island for prawns and rice and virgin daiquiris. In 2015, a deal to occupy an empty restaurant was damaged, however in 2020 the house turned obtainable once more, and Lely’s bought a second likelihood.
You possibly can miss Seafood Kings 2 within the blink of a watch. It’s the first storefront throughout the road from the water, on the Metropolis Island facet of the bridge; Eating places that sit straight on the water usually tend to catch your eye. Inside, nevertheless, outstanding issues are taking place. The island has been dwelling to a handful of Blacks-owned companies, however Lily’s is pretty sure they’ve their first Blacks-owned soul-food seafood restaurant. Darrell and his sister, Brittany, function common managers, and within the kitchen Darrell’s brother, Max, and youngest son, Dalvin—with occasional help from Caterina—make an artwork, consisting of tightly coiled and crunchy, Additionally there are skinny strips. Whitened and fleshy cuts of catfish. They steam lobster tails and king- and snow-crab legs with corn, potatoes, and broccoli earlier than bathing them in Outdated Bay.
What actually units the restaurant aside on the island is what Darrell calls “kindred trimmings.” I used to be overjoyed to search out Tostones at each Johnny’s and Tony’s, and the choices at different institutions on the island replicate its rising range, however Seafood Kingz 2 stands alone in serving a dense, tacky macaroni pie with a beautiful cap of broiled orange cheddar; glazed candied yams, sprinkled with cinnamon; Sluggish-cooking darkens the tart, earthy collard greens; and Katrina’s Potato Salad, heavy on the bread-and-butter pickle and heady with nutmeg. Sit in entrance of the big entrance home windows on a transparent night time because the solar units over Eastchester Bay and there may be nothing blocking your view. (Dishes $12-$110.) I