By Jack Berglund
City Island is a small outcrop on the East side of the Bronx. It gained some fame recently as the scene of the 2010 movie by the same name. You can get there by a combination of subway and bus in a little over an hour from Manhattan. Why would you make such a journey? Going to City Island from Manhattan is like being transported through both space and time. The whole point of traveling is to go somewhere different from where you started (and if you’re me to eat in different restaurants), and this 1.5 mile long island certainly delivers on both counts.
City Island feels like its 1970-something, somewhere far far away from the city streets of the Big Apple. Its very much the US equivalent of a British seaside town. Like so many of those seaside towns, you get the sense that City Island’s hay-day has long since past but you still see its charms, all be it faded, showing through. British fish and chips are transposed to fried shrimp and beer. Check out Reef at the south tip of the island and wash your shrimp down with some bargain Pina Colada’s!
Getting to City Island is not especially difficult but if you’re a typical Manhattan-ite for whom traveling to Brooklyn takes a special occasion and the 15 minute journey to Hoboken is only to be considered under serious duress then you might have a problem. Ride the 6 train as far North as you can to Pelham Bay Park then find the Bx29 bus to City Island. Alternatively rent a car and drive there in less than an hour. You can wonder the length of the main road in a few hours. If you’re feeling homesick, check out some of the side streets to the west for a view of the Manhattan skyline.
As often seems to be the case when I travel, most of my memories seem to be centered around food and drink. The place to have dinner is Sammy’s Fish Box. It seems to be the special occasion place on City Island and was full of couples celebrating anniversaries and birthday parties. The menu consists of giant portions (and I mean truly giant, even by American standards) of butter covered seafood with every side and trimming. Healthy its not but it sure tasted good!
If you’re looking for something a little different to do on a summer weekend, and need to get out of the city check out City Island.