Posted By Rosemarie DiCristo
7/31/2004 1:12:00 PM
‘A little bit of New England in the Bronx’ is one of the advertising slogans used to describe City Island, a mile-long island off the northeastern coast of the Bronx, but it’s the party atmosphere that sets Johnny’s Reef apart from the more traditional (and pricier) restaurants lining City Island Avenue. Children are more than welcome and are usually found careening about the outdoor seating area, feeding or chasing the many gulls and pigeons that congregate there. Large crowds are welcome, too, and on any day both the indoor and outdoor areas are jammed with people. But it’s the outdoor area that’s the best place to sit: simple rows of metal tables in an asphalt lot overlook the Long Island Sound, the far-away Queens/Long Island shore, and both the Whitestone and Throggs Neck bridges.
Fried shrimp are the specialty here. Eleven dollars gets you about eighteen to twenty succulent, always-fresh shrimp, as well as a small tub of cole slaw and a heap of fries. The shrimp have a soft, flour-based coating that is delicious; the fries are soft, too, and splendid. You have a choice of four sauces you ladle out of huge vats into tiny plastic cups: tartar, cocktail, a Tabasco-type sauce, and ketchup.
Also on the menu: fried lobster tails, filet of sole, scallops, red snapper, whiting, smelts, soft shell crab, oysters and squid. Most are available at both the fry and the steam sections. Portions are large and range from $9 to $11 in price.
Johnny’s Reef also offers clam chowder, corn on the cob, and shrimp cocktail. For folks who don’t like fish there are burgers and sandwiches (meatball, Italian sausage, and plain old ham and cheese). Frogs legs lovers will find that as well. Soft serve ice cream in cones or cups, jello, watermelon, and cheesecake round out the menu.
"The shrimp comes with fries and cole slaw. Also shown: three of Johnny's Reef's sauces: red (hot) sauce, shrimp sauce, and tartar sauce."
"The fries and cole slaw are buried under two moist pieces of fish."
"Johnny's Reef on a cool day in the off-season. The outside tables, which overlook the Long Island Sound and Queens, are usually much more crowded than this. You can see some of the ever-present pigeons, though."