Growing up on Staten Island, Borough President James Oddo’s entire universe was contained in a six-block radius. “I went to an elementary school so close to my house that if I forgot my lunchâ€”much to the chagrin of the nunsâ€”I could run home, grab it, and come back unnoticed.”Â That small-town feel may set Staten Island apart from the other boroughs,Â but Oddo wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are the lifelong islander’s picks…
For a throwback Thursday pint
The island has changed a lot since I was a kid,Â but Lee’s Tavern is the same as it’s always been. When times are tough, it’s a cheap night out with the family and some phenomenal pizza; when times are good, it’s a great place to grab a beer and a slice. Lee’s is the crossroads where you’ll find just about every type of Staten Islanderâ€”the police officer, the college student, the physician, and everyone in between, having a drink or a slice of pizza and watching the ball game together.
For a view that can’t be beat
When I was running for borough president, I did a photo shootÂ on a grassy overlook opposite Mount Loretto, and I told my campaign “you have to put the location on this, because folks won’t think it’s Staten Island.” There’s also Lemon CreekÂ Park for a quiet walk or kayak ride, or the Chinese Scholar’s GardenÂ up at Snug Harbor. I shouldn’t even say it, because it’s the island’s best kept secret, but there’s no better view of Manhattan or Brooklyn than the one at Von Breisen Park.
For the perfect date night
I will never be mistaken for a romantic. My ideal night out is catching a SI Yankees gameÂ or heading to the tasting room at Flagship Brewery.Â But with amazing options like Beso, Bayou, and Blue, it’s hard to go wrong with a nice dinner and a walk along the water.
For a mini winter wonderland
When snow’s on the ground, there’s nothing prettier than the Stone House at Clove Lakes. Peter Botros came up with this amazing concept for a lakefront fine dining experience, right here in the island’s spectacular Clove Lakes Park.Â Cozying up in the big chair with a cup of heated sangria is the best way to beat the winter blues.
For some little-known history
The Conference House is the most southern point in New York State, and the site of one of the biggest eff-you’s in American historyâ€”a failed peace agreement between American rebels and British soldiers. And I’ll be at Historic Richmond Town on October 8 for Rome through Richmond Town, a celebration of Italian heritage.