Food Guide to Coney Island
At the southern end of Brooklyn, Coney Island is a summertime treat for New Yorkers. It's amusement park, Luna Park, re-opened this weekend for the season. To herald the opening of the rides, carnival games, and food stalls, the 87-year-old Cyclone was doused with a classic New York egg cream on the morning of April 13.
The iconic soda-fountain drink is made with milk, seltzer, and, traditionally, Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup.
While there aren't too many spots to actually buy an egg cream at Coney Island, there are several dining options among the stalls selling pastel-hued cotton candy, salty popcorn, and sweet funnel cakes.
Start at Totonno's just off the boardwalk on Neptune Ave. By all accounts, Totonno’s shouldn’t be around anymore. Consider first that it was opened in Coney Island in 1924 (by Antonio "Totonno" Pero, a Lombardi’s alum). Then factor in the fire that broke out in the coal storage area and ravaged the place in 2009. Add to that insult the destruction (and some reported $150,000 in repairs) incurred in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when four feet of water destroyed everything inside the family-owned institution. You’ll probably agree that Brooklyn (and the country) should be counting its lucky stars Totonno’s is still around. And yet it does more than that.
It doesn’t just keep a storied pizza name, or nostalgia for simpler times (and perhaps more authentic and consistent pies) alive. No. Owners Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano, and Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri don’t just bridge our modern era’s festishizing of pizza to the days of its inception at Lombardi’s. The coal-fired blistered edges, the spotty mozzarella laced over that beautiful red sauce… ah, fuggedabout all the teary-eyed try-too-much words, this is Neptune Avenue! This is Brooklyn! This is Totonno’s. And this, is how you make pizza and land at #12 on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Pizzas in America.
A stroll along the beach's boardwalk is a must. A recent addition is Coney's Cones ice cream shop. The shop churns homemade traditional flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry but more daring flavors like bacon and has served more than 100,000 scoops since opening in 2011.
Just as famous as the Cyclone roller coaster, perhaps, is the annual Nathan's Famous Hot-Dog Eating Contest held on the July 4th at the intersection of Surf and Stillwell Ave., where Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs has been in business since 1916. Stop by to have one of the chain's famous frankfurters.
If you haven't had enough of a sugar rush, get some to go at the whimsical IT'SUGAR. The name says it all at this saccharine shop that specializes in gigantic, life-size candy and sweets. Cereal-box size boxes of Nerds, one pound Snickers bars, and lollipops the size of Frisbees ensure you'll never run out of sweets. Opened in 2006 by Jeff Rubin, IT'SUGAR has 70 locations around the world, including New York which has shops from Coney Island to Lincoln Center.
Lauren Mack is The Daily Meal's New York City Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.