Pete Wells Gives 2 Stars to the River Café

Contributor
The elegant eatery was badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy
The River Cafe

“At the end of a night there, I always regret that it’s time to come back to the mainland,” Wells wrote.

This week, Pete Wells reviewed the River Café at Fulton Ferry, awarding the riverside Brooklyn establishment two stars and making it a New York Times “Critics’ Pick.”

The elegant eatery was built in 1977, but badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy, which forced the owners to close the establishment for 15 months and reopen in February of this year. Overall, Wells was impressed both by the quality of the food and scenic waterfront ambiance.

“No place in the city combines spectacle with hideaway intimacy and undiluted romance the way the River Café does,” Wells wrote.

But Wells emphasized that the River Café experience is about more than it’s clear Manhattan view, writing “the food is still much better than you might fear if you’ve been to other restaurants with souvenir views.”

Wells was largely impressed with the dishes constructed by longtime River Café chef Brad Steelman, praising his ability to make his simple main dishes flavorful.

“His main ingredients are almost always good enough to be their own special effects,” wrote Wells. “For his shrimp Oscar, he sets hollandaise boosted with blood-orange juice against beautifully sweet Pacific blue shrimp and meaty white lumps of crab.”

However Wells questioned some of the chef’s choices when he strayed from traditional dishes and presentations.

“His extremely good Barolo-braised oxtail appetizer would get along nicely with either polenta or pasta, but perhaps not with polenta stuffed inside pasta,” he wrote.

Overall, Wells was taken with the River Café’s ability to exude earnestness and elegance without coming off as cloying.

“In its desire to sweep us into its secluded, flower-strewn island, the River Café is sincere in a way that restaurants hardly ever are these days,” said Wells. “At the end of a night there, I always regret that it’s time to come back to the mainland.”

For Wells' full review, click here.

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