Tottenville Beach is part of the southernmost neighborhood of Staten Island, in New York City, USA. Tottenville Beach is the part of Tottenville that is south and east of Hylan Boulevard. It is the newest part of Tottenville. It was largely undeveloped up until the 1990s. It is exclusively residential, and is bordered on the south and west by Conference House Park. Page Avenue is usually considered the northeastern boundary of Tottenville Park and also that of all of Tottenville.
While the beach that the area is named for is not popular with swimmers or sunbathers, it is nonetheless a popular place for fishing.
Several hotels dotted the shoreline in the area during the first half of the 20th century, but currently (2013) the only commercial establishment in the entire area is the “Coral Bay Cafe” at 722 Rockaway Street. As of 2016 it is closed due to Hurricane Sandy. This restaurant must have been fantastic.
Coral Bay Cafe when it was open for business
Article Courtesy of The Staten Island Advance and Pam Silvestri
DINING: Coral Bay Cafe revisited
One of the borough’s precious few seaside dining options has made delightful improvements in the past year
The Raritan Bay view from Coral Bay Cafe’s dining room certainly is distracting, even with a platter of freshly shucked Blue Points on the table. It’s tempting to run toward the sandy shoreline and waving cattails just a stone’s throw from the restaurant’s patio doors. This whole beach scene makes Coral Bay a great pleasure to visit during the day.
Surprisingly Coral Bay Cafe is one of the borough’s few beach-side restaurants. It is an attractive, casual eatery nestled at the end of Rockaway Street, a quiet residential block in Tottenville. Perhaps you remember this place as Rockaway Cove. Or you may have called it Jorgneson’s at one time.
Even more recently, almost one year to the date, Coral Bay Cafe didn’t receive the most flattering food review in the AWE section. Happily, meals and service these days are substantially better. In fact, on recent visits, we enjoyed some rather nice meals at Coral Bay Cafe.
A cup of Manhattan clam chowder was rich with clams, vegetables and appropriate oregano seasoning. Celery slivers and bell pepper match sticks dressed up Portuguese pulpo, tender pieces of octopus cut on the bias and piled neatly on a colorful plate.
Seafood fra diavolo was textbook perfect; Copious fresh clams, mussels and shrimp surrounded a pound and a quarter, split whole lobster, served over a steaming hot, massive spaghetti portion, all components cooked beautifully in a slightly fired-up, shellfish-enhanced marinara sauce. Lobster-ricotta stuffed ravioli was presented in lobster cream sauce, a dressing that can be likened to a seafood bisque-tinged vodka sauce jacked up further with lobster meat chunks.
Seeded mustard flavored a pan-fried, hand-formed crabcake disc. Oysters Rockefeller had six Blue Points baked with bits of sauteed spinach, diced ham and a sauce that can be likened to a carbonara.
While we stuck with seafood on most visits (when in Rome, etc.), Coral Bay does dabble in meat items. In the wake of Easter, the restaurant served rabbit ragu over fettuccine. Typical evening specials include a steak such as a 24-ounce porterhouse with porcini mushroom demi-glace ($35.95) or a 16-ounce New York strip steak also with porcini sauce for $31.95.
Coral Bay does its best kitchen work during the restaurant’s sleepier times. For instance, lunch is quite delightful especially if you’re relaxed and in vacation mode. A large bowl of al dente fusilli with clams, garlic, fresh parsley and butter was extremely flavorful. Fried oysters came on fresh, glossy hero bread with julienne of mixed greens and diced tomato. While those bread-crumbed, super plump oysters were a tad greasy perhaps from vinaigrette dressed greens (and we would have hoped for a better tartar sauce), this kind of sandwich is a noteworthy lunch item for a seaside restaurant to offer. Fried oysters are also available as an entree item without the bread.
Desserts are not house made but there is a fair selection including a Torta della Nonna, a chilled slice of pie made with ricotta, eggs and pignoli nuts.
The restaurant has its off times, a matter that can be endearing and maddening at the same time. Staffers are gentle and meek when dealing with kitchen disappointments such as drag time between courses. Of course, winter is typically a quiet time for the restaurant. Yet when it is slammed unexpectedly with customers and/or large parties all at once, the kitchen may (obviously) become overwhelmed. Consequently, do call ahead if bringing a large group no matter what day of the week. We’ll also recommend waiting a few weeks after this review before trying the restaurant for the first time. And just be as patient as you can on a busy night: Seafood dishes may be worth the wait.
Staten Island has few shoreside restaurants about which to boast. Coral Bay is an unpolished gem among the offerings. We’re thrilled with its better service and more consistent food and wish it much luck.
Contact AWE restaurant critic Pamela Silvestri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coral Bay Cafe
722 Rockaway St.
Italian/Seafood dishes with raw shellfish and daily specials
Friendly but stretched thin at times
Attractive, warm decor with beautiful view of Conference Park beach. With hard tile surfaces around the restaurant and little to catch sound, acoustics can be very loud.
Daily, noon to 11 p.m.
Soups: $4.95 and up
Appetizers: $6.95 and up
Seafood Entrees: $17.95 and up
Entrees: $16.95 and up
Full bar and OK wine list with inexpensive offerings
Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club
70 indoors and, come warmer weather, 100 outdoors
Recommended even on weeknights
Not at front entrance where there are a few steps to negotiate. Access through patio doors on the side of the restaurant is possible.
Coral Bay Cafe Now
Photograph Courtesey of The Staten Island Advance & Joanne Stalzer
There are no buses or trains that run through Tottenville Beach, but the S59 and S78 local buses and the X17, X22, and X22A express buses run along Hylan Boulevard, which is a few blocks away in Tottenville
Seagulls Flying on Raritan Bay
Ducks on their morning walk on the beach
Time for Breakfast
A Child’s Fishing Rod – The kind we used when we were young
Floating on the Waves while searching for food
And Yes we do have The South Shore Democrat Club!
Afternoon JogSand Dunes created by The Army Core of Engineers after Hurricane Sandy
Wooden Pilings from the old Tottenville Yacht Club
Seating for Four on the Beach – Just bring your lunch and Enjoy
The more the merrier
Wooden Pilings from the Tottenville Yacht Club
Bicycling on Tottenville Beach
And yes he does move fast
Photographs Courtesy of Tottenville Historical Society
Wormland’s Hotel was the first business on Tottenville Beach, then called Outside Beach. It was located on Surf Ave. at Yetman Ave. A boathouse, possibly for lifeguards, is visible on the far right in this circa 1910 postcard.
By 1910, Tottenville beaches had become popular for summer vacationers from Manhattan and New Jersey. Oscar Friedrich of New Jersey enlarged Wormland’s Hotel and established the Shore House Hotel. A large fishing pier was soon added.
round 1920, Charles Peters operated the hotel, described as having “First Class Accommodations for Yachting, Auto, Fishing and Trolley Parties. Dinners Served at All Hours. Sea Food a Specialty.” In 1925 Jens Schmidt purchased several waterfront lots and established Schmidt’s Boat Rentals adjacent to the hotel.
In this map detail (Sanborn Map, revised 1932) the footprints of numerous buildings including many residences along Surf Ave. from Brighton St. to Loretto St. tell the story of an active beach community.
The Tottenville Casino, a popular restaurant and dance hall, also served as a banquet hall for groups and organizations. Located at Rockaway St. and Surf Ave., the Casino burned down in 1940.
During the 1930s, the Raritan Bay Park Improvement Association (RBPIA) building provided ample room for activities and entertainment throughout the year. (Image from the NYPL Digital Gallery)
In 1945, the Tottenville Yacht Club purchased the Schmidt property and built their clubhouse. In 1950, the clubhouse was destroyed by the Great Thanksgiving Storm. Club members, pictured here, immediately began the clean up and rebuilding of the clubhouse.(Collection of Leyes Family)
In 1934, 80 bath houses owned by Hugh Cuff were destroyed and several other buildings damaged by fire including the Jersey View Restaurant, Surf Ave., pictured here.(Image from NYPL Digital Gallery)
Audrey Siebert Snyder (1917-2012), summer resident, is pictured in a decorated baby buggy behind the Shore House Hotel following the 1920 baby parade. These annual Labor Day parades were sponsored by the Raritan Bay Park Association.
One hundred year old brick cesspools along the beach were recently exposed by Sandy’s storm surge.
Pilings from the Tottenville Yacht Club, buried in the sand for the past 60 years, have been exposed by the tidal surge.
Is is written that Tottenville Beach has lost more than 100 feet of shoreline since the early 1900s. Just days after the storm, Raritan Bay is once again calm and serene. The waterfront is indeed a beautiful but dangerous place.
Whether it be Winter Spring Summer or Fall – Tottenville Beach has it all.
Wildlife Nature Fishing & Swimming if you are brave enough
Its worth the trip from anywhere. Another hidden Staten Island Secret not to many Staten Islanders know about. Who knows you might even open your own restaurant on the Beach!
Until the next time we leave you with this song by Bob Wright & Harbortown