Ten things to do at Coney Island
Check out the best of the Brooklyn shore.
Sun Apr 24 2011
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello
Hailed by many as the best pizza in New York, Totonno's is still slinging classic thin-and-crunchy crusts despite a large fire in 2009 that forced it to close. But the pizzeria reopened about a year later to bake ingredients imported from Italy in its old-fashioned brick ovens, much to the delight of the patrons and pizzaiolos, who can be heard matter-of-factly reciting the mantra, coined by New York Senator Chuck Schumer "Only God makes better pizza." Come hungry—Totonno's doesn't sell slices, only pies. 1524 Neptune Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (718-372-8606). Wed--Sun noon--7:30pm.
Coney Island Circus Sideshow
What was once known as a freak show has, in modern times, become a wondrous and curious attraction. But the jaw-dropping feats remain the same, with fire-eating, sword-swallowing, snake-charming performers still putting on an impressive, if somewhat nostalgic, show. Ticket prices are modest, and Saturdays in summer features a burlesque-tinged show after dark (10pm). 1208 Surf Ave at 12th St (718-372-5159, coneyisland.com). Opens Apr 23: Sat, Sun 1--8pm. Starting May 27: Fri 2--8pm; Sat, Sun 1--8pm. June 13--Sept 5: Mon--Sun 1--8pm. $7.50, children $5.
The oldest bar and grill on the boardwalk celebrates its 35th, and possibly last, year in business as developers begin to revamp and rebrand the beach with an "out with the old" attitude. Known to many as the best dive bar with the best jukebox in Coney Island, Ruby's houses the fun and rowdy spirits of the area's past and the beer-seeking beach bums of today. One safety tip: If a long day of drinking awaits you, relieve your bladder elsewhere. A patron fell—and arose unscathed—through the floorboards in the restroom a few years back. 1213 Reigelmann Boardwalk between Stillwell Ave and W 12th St (718-372-9079, rubysconeyisland.com). Mon--Thu, Sun 11am--10pm; Fri--Sat 11am--1am.
Tatiana Restaurant & Grill
Over-the-top dcor and authentic Russian cuisine are commonplace in Brighton Beach, but Tatiana Restaurant also offers elegant dining and elaborate cabaret performances to boot. Those looking for a more casual experience can dine just steps from the waterfront at Tatiana Grill, which is no less elaborately decorated than its sister restaurant. Ship wheels, anchors, fish and blue hues dominate the nautical scene here. But don't let the contrast worry you: The food is consistently top notch across the board and both spots have held deep roots in the community for years. 3152 Brighton 6th St at Boardwalk, Brighton Beach (restaurant: 718-891-5151, tatianarestaurant.com; grill: 718-646-7630, tatianagrill.com). Daily noon--midnight.
M&I International Foods
For the residents of Brighton Beach, M&I is as customary as the corner bodega is to Manhattanites, except the prices are lower and the selection—and language—is mostly Russian. The loud and bustling food emporium offers a 50-foot-long display of cured meats and sausages and worldly items such as smoked fish, pork belly, pickled produce, flaky pastries and Russian beers. We suggest bringing a hamper and filling it for a picnic on the beach. Those looking for a more relaxing day-trip to Russia can visit the straightforward caf on the top floor (opening times vary). 249 Brighton Beach Ave at Brighton 2nd St, Brighton Beach (718-615-1011). Daily 8am--9pm.