The River Café

Few restaurants in New York City can boast the history and influence of Brooklyn’s River Café. Founded in 1977, it has launched the careers of many luminaries of the culinary world (Larry Forgione, Charlie Palmer, David Burke and Rick Laakkonen), its wine director Joseph DeLissio has been responsible for introducing such wines as Dominus, Dunn, Far Niente, Harlan, Jordan, Opus One, Phelps Insignia and Shafer to New York wine lists, it has been the site of six major films and hundreds of commercials and hosted countless celebrities and royalty while also drawing more newcomers and tourists into Brooklyn than any entity since the heyday of Coney Island. It would be easy to assume, as some cynics charge, that the restaurant is now resting on its laurels, unduly reliant on a subsidy of swarms of tourists.

Such a dismissal would be a mistake, however, because the River Café consistently turns out classic American food of very high distinction. An amuse bouche of butternut squash soup paired with venison carpaccio and fruit mustard is outstanding. The lobster specials are consistently interesting, including one Mexican-influenced butter poached lobster, served with the shell removed over corn tamale with Mexican cheese. And the view remains, as always, the best of any restaurant in New York City. The restaurant sits on the East River harbor nestled underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. It creates a sensation of dining on the water with a glorious panoramic backdrop of the New York City skyline. Softly-lit, with live piano music and tuxedo-clad waiters, the River Café is among the two or three most romantic restaurants in New York City and one of the last bastions of old-school classic dining. New Yorkers should be grateful for its longevity.


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1 Water St
(718) 522-5200
Mon-Fri, noon-3pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Sat-Sun, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm
    Brad Steelman, Chef