The River Café is one of New York and America’s most unique locations. Nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge with sweeping views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty, this elegant restaurant has, since 1977, been a favorite destination for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world.
When the River Cafe opened in the late 70s, its neighborhood was anything but attractive: nestled in the crux between excruciatingly upscale Brooklyn Heights and the burgeoning residential burg of DUMBO, there weren't a whole lot of reasons to find yourself underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, nor that many ways to get there. But the restaurant has taken that area and given it a destination feel all its own, with no small help from neighbors like the famous Grimaldi's Pizza and, lately, the massive renovations going on in the surrounding parks.
Renowned for its exquisite setting, beautiful decor and seamless service The River Café serves a wonderful classic New American menu using only the finest, freshest and often rare ingredients. With an award winning and outstanding wine list, romantic piano music nightly, breathtaking floral arrangements, the River Café is more than simply dining, it is often a magical experience. Aside from the stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge, East River, and Manhattan, the menu is rife with visual magic as well. Seafood is far and away the specialty here, although you could scarcely go wrong with their strip steak or crisp duck breast. The Maine lobster should be outlawed on account of nothing that good can possibly be legal, and the Branzino fillet, with its Mediterranean sea bass stuffed with chorizo and shrimp, will make your mouth water enough to let your meal swim away.
River Cafe is located in the Dumbo neighborhood of Manhattan. First thing's first: DUMBO is so named—like nearby RAMBO just north and Tribeca in Manhattan—because of its location. Whereas Tribeca is the "triangle below Canal," DUMBO is—in both senses—"down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass." While it was once a haven for starving artists and the working class residents of Brooklyn, DUMBO has seen tremendous surges in property values in the last decade. Where Brillo pads used to be made, the upper class now scrub out their own spot in what used to be a significantly cheaper alternative to Manhattan. Formerly called Fulton Landing—after Robert Fulton, the man who invented the steam engine and whose ironclad ship, the USS Monitor, was built in Greenpoint during the Civil War—DUMBO remains connected to Manhattan by more than just the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges: the New York Water Taxi stills runs commuter and tour boats from Fulton Landing every day. If you're coming into DUMBO from Manhattan, there are the usual subway routes, of course, and taxi cabs, but one of the things that New Yorkers and tourists alike love to do is take a stroll down the Brooklyn Bridge. Still one of the world's largest pieces of freemasonry, the Brooklyn Bridge features a unique promenade that spans the entire length of the bridge and carries pedestrians above the pulsing inter-borough traffic. One a clear day, all of Manhattan and Brooklyn is visible, as well as views down the East River and into Upper New York Bay. The promenade is adorned with many informational plaques to fill up your historical head and plenty of benches to rest your feet. Floating underneath the bridge is the curious Barge Music venue, where 125-seat audiences are treated to exceptional chamber music in an unlikely setting. If you'd like something more visual, though, the waterfront is also home to the DUMBO Art Center, a 3,000 square foot gallery that offers seasonal exhibitions, workshops, and the annual Art Under The Bridge Festival. The art isn't relegated to one museum, though, and rightfully so, since DUMBO used to be a cheap place for artists to live. Now, the area is just expensive enough to attract art galleries instead, like the Museum Of Modern Arthur. With rising property values inevitably comes the boutique shopping. DUMBO has places like Wonk for those space-conscious Brooklynites with expanding wallets in need of innovative furniture solutions. For eats and drinks, art-crowd friendly 68 Jay Street has the usual bar selections as well as a wine list and happy hour, while the DUMBO General Store offers an even more relaxed atmosphere, with a café component and a wealth of books to leaf through as your eyes adjust from all those art exhibits. Prefer something sweet? Try the DUMBO location of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory or the master chocolates hand-made at Jacques Torres Chocolate. Now that we've had dinner backwards, head to Front Street for the contemporary American cuisine of Five Front, the seasonal Mediterranean dishes of Superfine, or authentic Mexican food served by chef Danny Mena at Hecho en Dumbo at the DUMB General Store. There's also the duo of the world-famous Grimaldi's, which is no longer in its original location nor owned by the original owner, and Juliana's, located in the old Grimaldi's space and owned by Patsy Grimaldi himself. Of course, the waterfront of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park offers some of the best views of Manhattan you're likely to get at street level, with the former, newer park developing bigger and more exciting attractions on its many piers every season. Besides an artificial beach, kayaking, recreational sports, concerts, and the spectacular greenway, Brooklyn Bridge Park teams up with the Syfy channel every summer for Movies With A View, an amazing cinematic experience that lets audiences watch classic movies in the open air of the park with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background!
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