9th Annual Staten Island Zoological Society Ball

9th Annual Staten Island Zoological Society Ball
Coatimundis, sulcata tortoises, armadillos, oh my! The animals at the annual Staten Island Zoological Society Ball were definitely the most exotic guests of all. The attendees were given a chance to interact with and learn about the different animals residing in the Staten Island Zoo. The event honored the outstanding generosity of Elvis Duran (the host of the Morning Show on Z100 radio station), The Bruce G. Geary Foundation and other charitable supporters of the Zoo. With their assistance the “biggest little Zoo in New York” continues to provide its visitors with the educational and entertaining experience, delighting young and old alike.
Ken Mitchell, executive director of the Staten Island Zoological Society, announced to the sold-out crowd of zoo lovers that two long-awaited projects, the Amur Leopard exhibit and Conservation carousel, will begin construction this summer. “These state-of-the-art additions to the Zoo will provide our visitors with enriching new experiences and offer the Society new sponsorship and membership-building opportunities. In addition, we have begun designing a new modern aquarium.”
Elvis Duran shared with us the story behind his unanticipated passion for the Staten Island Zoo saying “It’s kind of a funny story. One time I was offered an opportunity to come to the Staten Island Zoo and do an interview with a kangaroo. After meeting the kangaroo and learning about the other animals at the zoo, I fell in love with it – I was hooked. It’s the only place where you can be hands on with the animals- it‘s a boutiquey zoo.” Unfortunately, because of the poor economy and budget cuts the zoo has been losing the funds that help keep up the collection of the animals and was forced to reduce its staff. Thankfully though, the Staten Island Zoo holds a special place in the hearts of its advocates, who charitably sponsor many new and exciting projects for the community. With these new opportunities, it seems, people couldn’t be more excited about the zoo’s future.  “With the new curator, we have many new, larger animals that will be added to the zoo this year. Everyone’s ready for the new chapter” says Elvis. “This zoo has the potential to be a world class zoo and everyone involved has the drive to take it there. It’s a good time at the zoo.”

Letter from the Desk of Second Saturdays Staten Island

The arts community in Staten Island is growing, so to help guide us to the potential art discoveries on the island we’ve enlisted our borough’s renowned artist, Co-founder and Director of Second Saturday Staten Island, Brendan Coyle, to share his views.

Hello readers,

I’ve been invited by Staten Island Lifestyle to give an update on the goings on of the art community and encourage the growing movement to keep flourishing. The lifestyle we have here, regardless of the choices made by our governing municipality, is precisely nothing else than what we bring into it as engaged members of a community. I saw fit to encourage the tradition of an “art walk” to form in Staten Island in 2010 for several interconnected reasons, and lifestyle (or quality of life concerns) was amongst the top few.

What is an art walk?

Surprisingly few people actually know what I’m referring to when I use the term “art walk”.  On a Second Saturday or First Friday or Third Thursday or what have you, depending on the city or neighborhood you’re in, there is a consistent monthly routine that involves a variety of art galleries, artist studios, cafes and other establishments that display art, music, and performance, all coordinating their opening receptions on the same day. There is decidedly little else in terms of organization. Art walks in many places can be extremely commercial, and in others they are more cutting edge. In Staten Island we have the unique opportunity of seeing a true DIY movement spring up out of the nooks and crannies of one of the 5 boroughs, the “forgotten” one.

Some of the pop-up galleries are spread out over the neighborhood and it takes a little commitment from the gallery goer, a little bit of adventure maybe, to find them. That’s part of the built-in quality control of the design. The galleries have to compete, they have to curate their shows thoughtfully and promote themselves, as well as the art walk at large. There’s a push-and-pull that makes for a healthy community. We are traffic-sharing, but when there’s a critical mass you have to be on your A game. Since the start I’ve encouraged venues (and created new ones) to take on contemporary art, to be experimental and be part of the conversation that is happening in New York. We are New York artists living out here because we seek affordable space, peace of mind, and feedback from an interested and informed community.

I’ve lived here for 7 years and enjoyed the benefits of being in New York and simultaneously experiencing something of a tight knit small town feel that you get in the North Shore. The connectivity of various cultural groups through Second Saturdays has brought some verve to the area that makes it all the much more appealing, and I can see the community coming into its own that way. We’re here and time is ebbing, be part of the conversation.


Brendan Coyle



Enoteca Maria – an authentic taste of Italy on Staten Island

Enoteca Maria on Staten Island

Enoteca Maria on Staten Island

Enoteca Maria on Staten Island is a cultural Italian destination.

Do you remember your grandmother’s cooking? How the aroma of your favorite dishes would fill up the air every time she touched the stove with her aged, yet experienced hands? How comforting and happy it made you feel just to spend that time together with her in the kitchen? Grandma always knew how to bring the family together.

I’m sure even the most acclaimed chefs would agree – there’s nothing better than their grandmothers’ cooking.

The concept at Enoteca Maria is simple, yet incredibly innovative: local Italian grandmothers or nonnas, cooking their signature regional dishes in this restaurant’s kitchen. The menu changes daily depending on which nonna takes her  turn as the chef-of-the-day. Nonnas shop locally-grown produce every morning and buy whatever is freshest. Inspired by the fragrant ingredients of the day, the menu takes its form. Every dish that comes out of the kitchen is heavenly, infused with the main ingredient – love.  And suddenly, you are no longer at a restaurant, you are at nonna’s, for dinner.

Enoteca Maria on Staten Island

The wine list at Enoteca Maria should not be overlooked. Personally handpicked by the owner, Joe Scaravella, every bottle is a rare and delightful surprise. The extensive wine list, which is offered by the glass, as well as, by the bottle, definitely lives up to the restaurant’s name “Enoteca”, which means wine library in Italian. At times, Mr. Scaravella will pop open a new bottle and make his way over to your table, and you’ll find yourself having a friendly chat with the owner over a glass of wine.

Now to the kitchen!

Enoteca Maria on Staten Island

“Cooking is like performing surgery, it has to be clean. If something goes wrong, somebody can get hurt,” says Joe Scaravella.

The restaurant features an open concept kitchen where the foodies can observe the nonnas hard at work. It’s wonderful to witness the ladies prepare dishes in this absolutely immaculate space. None of the delicacies they serve each night follow a recipe, instead the nonnas rely on years of experience and their wisdom of old Italian traditions. All the dishes are prepared from scratch and cooked fresh daily, which accounts for the fact that it may take some time for the food to arrive at your table. But you wouldn’t want to rush through this dinner, because every night at Enoteca Maria is a celebration – a celebration of great food!

Enoteca Maria on Staten Island

The urban decor of this restaurant is influenced by the exposed brick detail, contemporary lighting and the artwork of local artists displayed on the walls. This is a very intimate space with only 35 seats, so call ahead for reservations. Make sure to bring cash, as it is a cash-only restaurant. A nice bonus to the experience is a sincere and friendly staff.

It’s easy to live “la dolce vita” at Enoteca Maria!

A big thank you to Dmitriy M. for taking these amazing pictures.

Perfect Restaurants for Your Valentine’s Date

Valentine’s Day is a holiday known for love and romance. To make this evening a memorable one, plan a romantic date and treat your lover to a special evening they won’t soon forget. I’m talking about sharing a luscious dining experience with your companion. Chemistry between food and romance exists indeed. Certain foods can soothe your soul, fill you up with warmth, others can entice and excite you, offering endless pleasure. For these reasons, choosing the right restaurant that serves that flavorsome fare is so important.

Here’s a list of places that are great for romantic dates:

South Fin Grill

This restaurant is for seafood lovers and is perfect for a special occasion. As soon as you enter through the doors you’ll feel a certain level of sophistication that this establishment offers. The romantic setting is infused with fine decor and breathtaking views of the water. You’ll find a creative menu with lots of seafood options, from a satisfying raw bar selection to beautifully presented cooked fish entrees. There are steaks and chops for meat lovers as well. This is the kind of place you visit to celebrate, so order a glass of wine and indulge. In season, explore the outdoor seating area.


This charming place is a neighborhood favorite that keeps locals buzzing. The combination of exposed brick walls, red velvet drapes, crystal chandeliers and candlelight add warmth to the overall ambiance of the restaurant. Enjoy the New Orleans inspired cuisine that has already built a reputation for providing an unforgettable dining experience. This off the beaten path Staten Island gem is a perfect intimate dinner spot. Want to be daring and impress your date? Order the alligator bites, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you haven’t been yet, this needs to be your next destination.

Angelina’s Ristorante

Angelina’s Ristorante offers a menu full of delicious Italian classics and innovative creations – all prepared with incredible attention to presentation to make a lasting impression. The elegant Italian style villa was built specifically for the restaurant boasting two levels of dining, a beautiful bar area, romantic verandas with stunning waterfront views, spacious terraces and a perfectly manicured lawn. The atmosphere is upscale and the service is friendly. Angelina’s Ristorante is definitely fine Italian dining, another great spot to be saved for a special occasion.

Marina Cafe

Marina Cafe is as elegant as Great Kills Harbor gets. The dining room hosts one of the most fantastic views of the marina with gracefully sailing yachts. And as the night falls, the sunset from the panoramic windows offers the most romantic setting possible. Upon entering one can appreciate the excellent accommodations with a nautical motif. Marina Cafe offers a seafood-driven menu and draws upon traditional ingredients. Whether you desire succulent oysters and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, or a cold glass of beer paired with a steamed lobster, Marina Cafe can satisfy your craving.


Hands down, one of the best upscale Japanese restaurants in Staten Island. Takayama exists as a super stylish establishment in the Charleston area. The decor of the restaurant is modern and rich with comfortable private booths, dark wooden tables with inviting chairs and a great sushi bar area. Recline, dine and enjoy some sake from the extensive sake list. I have a feeling you’ll be happy with everything you eat here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo by Yelena Rozov

PepperJack Grill in Staten Island – A Neighborhood Staple

PepperJack Grill in Staten Island

PepperJack Grill in Staten Island

PepperJack…..With only 24 hours left to file the paperwork for the name of her newly renovated space, Melissa O’Connell (a very attentive owner of the restaurant) had to come up with something quick! She turned to her roots and her passions in life: The North Shore location, which Melissa grew up on and where the restaurant stands, the late Staten Island artist, “Jack” Demyan, who was a personal friend and who’s collection of art is one of her most prized possessions, the fresh ground pepper – her favorite spice (a total guess here). From these, the Staten Island inspired name came together as PepperJack Grill.

The final result is a special place. A cozy and relaxed gastropub with a warm ambiance and a friendly staff. The cuisine is American Traditional with a bit of a fancy twist. For example – you can’t get more American Traditional than macaroni and cheese, but add fresh lobster meat and the dish becomes decadent and comforting, all at the same time. PepperJack Grill boasts an appetizer heavy menu with simple yet elegant dishes and signature sangrias. “The appetizers are what we are known for” says Melissa.

Perhaps Melissa’s background in interior decorating provoked her to experiment with the decor of the restaurant. The walls of PepperJack Grill are adorned with the artwork of local artists, which the owner rotates to give way to new pieces, giving the restaurant an authentic feel. The brown paper tablecloths serve as canvases and the jar of crayons on each table encourages and inspires the creativity of the youngest patrons of the restaurant. The creations are later displayed on the Art Wall. Contemporary furnishings are also incorporated into a design that features a gas fireplace, inviting dining area and leather booths. The rich mahogany bar that has been restored and kept as a centerpiece of the restaurant is, possibly, the only original feature kept by Melissa from the days long past… The bar area offers up a nice alternative to the main dining room.

There is also live music. Local musicians perform everything form rock n’ roll and blues, to jazz, and even a little bit of country.

So why not head over there the next time you are in the mood for some American Traditional cuisine and do a taste test?

We liked it and we think you need to go.