If you’re a native Staten Islander, or even if you have been living on the Island for just a short period of time, chances are you know exactly what neighborhood I’m talking about when it comes to the best pizza and the best ices you can find: Port Richmond.
Denino’s Pizzeria and Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices always seem to come up in conversation together whenever people talk about their favorite things to do during the summer on Staten Island. Maybe it’s because they both happen to represent two of the oldest family-owned businesses on Staten Island’s North Shore. Perhaps it could be that they are both North Shore icons that have been bridging the gap between Staten Island’s past, present and future. Or, it could simply be that Staten Islanders know a good thing when they see it (or taste it).
Either way, hundreds of residents, tourists, and visitors line-up daily to partake in some of Staten Island’s finest at these two businesses every summer.
Have you been there yet?
Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern
I have been going to Denino’s for years, and every time I leave I have a conversation with my husband about the pizza; mostly trying to figure out how they get the crust like “that” (“that,” meaning thin yet sturdy and perfectly crispy). If you’ve ever been to Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern. you know exactly what I’m talking about.
As a Staten Island Realtor, I find it hard to describe a place like Denino’s to people from out-of-town. There is nothing fancy about it- nothing there that you wouldn’t expect to see or experience at a pizzeria or tavern. The service is great and the menu is full of wonderful options, and yes, in 2007 and 2008 they did win the title of having the best pizza in New York City. But how else do you describe Denino’s to someone who is visiting Staten Island for the first time?
I guess Denino’s is one of those places that you just have to visit to understand why it is so special to Staten Islanders. Having the best pizza on the Island or even throughout the entire city is usually enough to get people through the door. And of course, who doesn’t like to boast a little bit when the rest of the city finally recognizes what we have to offer on Staten Island.
But besides the pride we have for our award-winning pizzeria, I think what makes Denino’s so special, and what keeps people going back is not just the food, but it is tradition. As one of the oldest family businesses on Staten Island, Denino’s has become a mainstay in the Port Richmond neighborhood. In a way, it represents something consistent in the midst of a changing community and a changing world.
Whether you’ve been going to Denino’s for years or just visited there for the first time, Denino’s is a place you know you’ll always go back to, at least one more time.
Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream
I’ll never forget the time I was waiting in line at Ralph’s when I noticed a large group of people walking down Port Richmond Avenue. It was clear to me that they were from out of town (don’t ask me how I knew), and sure enough, I found out that they were a group from upstate New York doing community service work with Project Hospitality.
As we stood in line (as usual, it was a very long line), one of them finally asked, “so what’s the deal with this place? Everyone we talked to said that while we were here we had to go to Ralph’s.”
I’m sure the people at Ralph’s get this a lot. Visitors and tourists make the trek out to Port Richmond Avenue to visit the original location of Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices. All of them wondering the same thing; what is so great about this place they’ve heard so much about?
The short answer: Ralph’s is one of the best, plain and simple. Their product is delicious and although I haven’t tried all 150 different flavors, I can tell you exactly which flavor is my favorite (we all have one). Just about everyone I know heads out to Ralph’s at least once a summer, or has a pint stashed away in their freezer. You can’t get anything like it anywhere else.
The long answer: Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices is not only a neighborhood icon, but it symbolizes what many set out to accomplish when they came to America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In many ways, the story of Ralph Silvestro, an Italian immigrant who started making and selling his Italian ices in 1928, represents how the ‘American dream’ can become a reality.
But even if you don’t know the story of Ralph and how Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices came to be, he is still a household name on Staten Island. Case in point: when I say “hey, do you want anything at Ralph’s?” – everyone knows exactly where I’m going.
Needless to say, our visitors figured out exactly what the ‘big deal’ was, and enjoyed every last bit.
Come on out!
If you haven’t already, make a point to support these local businesses by heading out to 501 and 524 Port Richmond Avenue. They are, literally, steps away from one another, and believe me, are worth the trip.
If you are looking to buy a home on Staten Island and want to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact me on Facebook or Twitter. Even better, my website is full of helpful information about the different North Shore neighborhoods, local businesses, news and events. Don’t forget to check out North Shore Buzz for video interviews and home-buying tips.
Look forward to meeting up with you soon!