Julian’s opened a new restaurant. And when Julian opens a new restaurant, you scheme, trade favors and chomp at the bit until you can go. Even if you live in Jersey and work in the Bronx for 60 hours a week, you find the time and the money to pay for three toll bridges, Throgs Neck (because we got lost) Verrazano, and Goethals (on the return drive), bump a too-slow-to-rise toll beam, aimlessly drive through the rain into Staten Island because the GPS is trying to be funny, and then arrive.
But when you arrive, the restorant is full of pleasant waiters, quick bartenders and a smiling Julian that loves nothing better than to create beautiful dishes and make you have a whole new relationship with fish. The Sangria is simply divine. And you do feel that you have arrived.
Being old friends with Julian, I am not suprised to see the happy faces of the patrons, and smell the heavenly dishes as they are coming from the kitchen. This guy is simply amazing. He is a strange breed, an Albo man who truly loves cooking, even if he graduated for business (Albanian mothers, you know), and he always does very strange things to the food that give it its finger-licking taste. He is a lot of fun to be around and he makes sure that everybody is taken care of. His wife is also very hospitable and quick to smile. I am confident his incoming little bundles of joy will be the luckiest kids in the world with a papa and mama like that.
“Beso” is so new it does not yet have a fully functional website (http://besonyc.com/), but that does not stop the patrons from filling it to the brim. It is his second venture, a Spanish Tapas place (the first in Staten Island, I’m told). “Bayou” (www.bayoustatenisland.com) is his first, a Cajun place, but with Julian you should always be prepared to eat food the way he intended it. Both restaurants are very nicely furnished, with enough artwork to convey the atmosphere, but thankfully lacking anything gaudy and screaming “look-at-me I am authentic” thingamajings. They are similar in that, and also in the complete satisfaction they bring to veteran gluttons like myself. (psst: a little birdie told me an Albanian place might be coming to the picture later this year. Please let it be so, please let it be so.)
I order the duck and it does not disappoint. It comes with aldente spinach pasta (how is that for ordering healthy), and I dig in. From the grunts of my table companions, I assume their inner gluttons are in 7th heaven as well. We enjoy a lot of food and a lot of laughter and conversation, hogging Julian for almost the entire night. Of course we are the last to leave, right after the waiters and the busboys. However the ride home is easy and flies by, because now our stomachs are full and our minds are at peace. And I am proud to say, we do not hit anymore toll beams.So if you are in the area, do not miss either of these wonderful food experiences.
“Fine Spanish Cuisine and Tapas Bar”
11 Schuyler St
Staten Island, NY 10301
1072 Bay Street
Staten Island, NY 10305718-273-4383