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City Living: South Beach is Staten Island's quiet oasis by the sea
Tucked behind the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Staten Island waterfront neighborhood of South Beach offers a stunning year-round view and a quiet suburban feel.
The area, which sits on the borough’s eastern shore, is synonymous with the Arrochar neighborhood – the two are usually paired by locals and identified as one area.
South Beach's namesake is the local stretch of sand, the welcome mat of Staten Island, frequented by locals but still somewhat unknown by many New Yorkers. According to visitstatenisland.com, since the 19th century the nearly 2-mile beach served as a hotspot for ocean lovers who rented bungalows by the boardwalk and took advantage of the now-vanished amusement rides.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, once known as "The Riviera of New York City," offers breathtaking day and night views of the Verrazano and Hoffman Island. The beach boasts a family-friendly vibe with fountains, playing fields, and summertime events like movie nights, festivals and concerts.
"It's a beautiful area where people raise their families,” said Joe McAllister, president of the South Beach Civic Association and a resident of 30 years who would often visit as a kid. "Crime is low and there’s caring people."
He loves the quality of life he gets in South Beach.
"The streets are small; there's not a lot of speeding cars racing up and down," he said. "And the housing and residents are diverse."
The beach and accessibility is a plus for resident Maurice Asperti, the general manager at the circa 1921 Basilio Inn restaurant on Galesville Court.
"I have the bridge which is 5 minutes away by car if I need to get to Brooklyn," he said of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
But besides the access and his business, the people keep him here.
"Everybody knows each other. In the morning I go down and play bocce with the old, Italian guys who were born and raised here,” he said. “It’s the nostalgia. It’s a piece of Americana."
The area is reminiscent of a small town as much of it has remained unchanged for decades. Bungalows, Tudors and Queen Anne-style homes abound along the small streets though in recent years, townhouses and McMansions have sprung up on some blocks, notably on Father Capodanno Boulevard and Sand Lane.
Short roads like Nugen Avenue, Andrews Street, Appleby Avenue and Railroad Avenue, where the now uprooted Staten Island Railway used to run, add to the nabe’s sleepy and almost forgotten feel.
“It’s not boisterous, it’s very quiet,” said Mary Shalo, a 96-year-old resident and Staten Island native who moved to South Beach 50 years ago. “It’s an ideal neighborhood.”
Many small businesses dot the area. Services from doctor’s offices and pharmacies to hair salons are nestled among homes on some streets as well as on commercial corridors like McClean Avenue and Olympia Boulevard.
Ethnic spots like the specialty market Polish Delicious and La Canasta, a Mexican bakery, both on Sand Lane, reflect the changing demographic of the neighborhood which, according to McAllister, used to be predominantly Italian, but is now mixed with Russians, Irish, Polish and Mexican residents.
Though full of mom-and-pop joints, South Beach lacks in retail. Residents visit the Staten Island Mall in New Springville to shop for apparel or footwear. McAllister said the community pushed for a retail complex on Father Capodanno Boulevard years ago, however townhouses were built instead.
“But residents are happy without big box stores,” he said.
The nightlife and entertainment scene is also quiet here. McAllister said there were proposals for bars in the past but the civic and community board voted against it.
“If it’s something nice we want it, but if it’s going to promote rowdiness we don’t want it,” he said.
But where south beach lacks in entertainment and shopping, it makes up for in accessibility and convenience. Thanks to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, residents can quickly commute into Brooklyn and Manhattan. Buses shuttle residents around the island and to the St. George’s Ferry Terminal while expresses drive into Manhattan. The Staten Island Expressway gets residents to the Goethals Bridge.
“It’s the best for transportation to get to the city. This area is better compared to other parts of the island,” McAllister said. “They’re all good areas in their own ways but compared to the pluses we have here in South Beach -- the beach, transportation and the housing -- other parts can’t compare.”
South Beach/Arrochar’s northwestern border is Hylan Boulevard. It is bound to the north by Reid Avenue to the northeast by Quintard Street, stretching up Olympia Boulevard to Sand Lane. Its southwestern border is Seaview Avenue and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach is its southeastern boundary. More »
Buses: S51, S52, S53, S78, S79, S81. Express buses: X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X7, X8, X9 More »
The nearest post office to South Beach is the New Dorp USPS at 2562 Hylan Blvd. More »
NYPL South Beach Library 21-25 Robin Road More »
South Beach is covered by the 122nd Precinct at 2320 Hylan Blvd. According to its CompStat report, there were eight burglaries in the week of July 28-Aug. 3, and three in the same week last year. There were 12 grand larcenies, or major thefts, and seven that week last year. There were three rapes and one murder reported so far this year as of Aug. 3. More »
South Fin Grill
Dine on fresh oysters, fish or steak in an elegant setting while taking in views of the Verrazano Bridge and the glimmering water.
A good home-style Italian meal awaits patrons at this historic space that once was a carriage house. Enjoy fresh ingredients grown on their grounds like tomatoes and a friendly hometown vibe. It is one of the oldest eateries on Staten Island.
Chinar on the Island
Named after the Middle Eastern Chinar Tree, this Russian/Mediterranean establishment offers a warm ambiance with its courtyard and hearty dinner choices.
Part of South Fin Grill, Blu offers an after-hours entertainment spot with a variety of drinks, small plates and a chic, seaside style boasting views of the water and Verrazano.
The Vanderbilt at South Beach
This waterfront spot is a popular choice for weddings, parties and other formal occasions because of its views and luxurious, grand interior.
Seaside Turkish Restaurant
Seaside offers a spacious gathering spot to catch up and chow down on falafels, chicken adana, shepherd salad or sautéed lamb while sipping on Raki, the traditional alcoholic drink popular in Turkey and the Balkan region.
Find Polish products from pierniki or gingerbread cookies and fruit crumb cake to pierogi or dumplings at this specialty deli and grocery.
Locals get various cuts of meats, fish and produce at this family-owned establishment that opened in 1951.
South Beach locals find all their produce and grocery needs at this supermarket.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach
Locals often relax on the 2.5-mile beach, stroll or bike the boardwalk. Many catch fireworks, free movies on Fridays this summer. The next screenings are “West Side Story” on Aug. 15th and “Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl” on Aug. 22nd.
Kids and adults can partake in boardwalk-inspired games like Crazy Cans, Tic-Tac-Toe and Ring Toss at this party and play center. Mommy & Me Art classes and a creative center offers activities and learning for toddlers and young kids.
The Body House
Get a workout in or go hard and sculpt your body at this personal training center. Boot camps for women, teenagers and anyone else who wants to slim down are offered.
The athletic complex is 135,000 square feet. More »
"The beach is what makes it nice. It’s relaxing." More »
186 Robin Road. Studio with one bath; 650 square feet: $700 per month; 62 Wentworth Ave. Two beds, 1 1/2 baths; 900 square feet: $1,800 per month. More »
202 Sand Lane. Three beds, two baths with a backyard; 1,300 square feet: $334,000; 45 Savo Lane. Three beds, two baths; 1,764 square feet: $369,900. More »