AN OCEAN OF FRESH CATCH OYSTERS, CLAMS, CALAMARI, AND MUCH MORE ARE ON THE MENU AT THIS WATERFRONT OASIS, ALONG WITH STUNNING SUNSETS
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY
For years, Larry Cole had admired a quaint waterfront property on Staten Island’s Cleveland Avenue that featured both expansive views of Great Kills Harbor and a sort of fisherman’s cove seclusion. Cole, a locally famous restaurateur and the longtime owner of Sweet Basil the acclaimed Annadale eatery that served wild game and other epicurean oddities for years had even imagined the seafood menu he would offer and the nautical inspired décor he would use. “I’m a boater and a fisherman, and I was always interested in this location,” Cole said. “I knew it would be the perfect spot to serve fresh seafood, so I continually tried to purchase it, but the deal just never worked out.
Then, after almost a decade of trying, Cole’s ship finally came in; he acquired a lease on the land in 2003, and hired a team of designers and builders to gut and renovate the space.
“Because of the location, I wanted everything to be very nautical, very Nantucket,” the owner said. So, he splashed the interior in bright shades of white and trimmed the bar in dark mahogany. Floor to ceiling windows and an open air patio allowed plenty of natural light into the dining room and full access to the restaurant’s harbor views.
“We opened it all up,” Cole explained. “And we designed a menu that was a good reflection of our location: clams, mussels, scallops, calamari, shrimp served in a dozen different ways. We did Italian, too, because Staten Island requires that, but we focused on fresh seafood and a couple of very good steaks. We were successful and busy from the start.”
Cole started out as a busboy and dishwasher at a variety of local restaurants before jumping on the prep line and finding his passion. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he was ready to launch his career as a restaurateur.
“I took a job as a busboy to make some extra money and simply loved the excitement of the kitchen,” he said.
After stints at the Harbor House, Capelli’s, Lido, and Toto’s, Cole owned and operated Sweet Basil for 18 years. Then came the culmination at Cole’s Dockside, where he says the best part is working with his son, Ian.
“He is a fisherman and chef, too, and we share similar ideas in the kitchen,” Cole said. “Summer is our season here. In the winter we do a lot of parties and still have a full dining room on the weekends, but, of course, people love to come and sit by the water in the summertime.”
The restaurant’s most popular dishes include King Crab Legs served with drawn butter; Broiled Scallops Oreganata; mahi-mahi served with tomatoes, scallions, and mozzarella in a Key lime sauce; and stuffed Shrimp Pescatore served in a creamy bisque. Also popular: filet mignon topped with melted Gorgonzola cheese and the Grilled Tuna Wasabi. Appetizers include baked clams, crab cakes, and burrata Tuscany, and the restaurant’s raw bar features freshly shucked clams and oysters alongside jumbo shrimp cocktail and a seafood tower for two.
“We have it all soup to nuts,” Cole said. “Our prix fixe menu and happy hour always fill the dining room, and we have a range of party menus for a variety of occasions.”
Desserts are made in house and include options like Banana Bouquet, a double decker confection built out of Pizzelle cookies and white chocolate mousse; tiramisu, tartufo, Key lime sherbet, and Molten Lava Cake. Espresso martinis, white cosmos, and blueberry mimosas are highlights of the drink menu.
“We play with a lot of seasonal ingredients, especially in the summertime,” Cole said. “There’s something about this location, the proximity to the water it’s the perfect place for oysters, clams, and calamari. That’s why I fell in love with this property so many years ago; I wanted to create a spot where people could grab a great meal and enjoy a beautiful view. And that’s exactly what we offer.”
Cole’s Dockside Seafood Restaurant
369 Cleveland Avenue
718.948.5588 / colesdockside.com