This past Sunday morning I ventured where no Manhattanite has gone before. At nine am I woke up, changed into shorts and a tank top, forgot to slather on sunscreen, packed my bag and headed to Stated Island. I was off on my second date with Key to the City!
The Time: Sunday, June 13th, 10:15 am
The Place: Conference House Park, 298 Satterlee St., Staten Island
The Guy: Tim (real name!), 25, also met on OkC.
What Creative Time Says: Our city ends on this shore -- beyond it is the Atlantic.
I knew I was going to have a great time with Tim when he 1) consented to being analyzed on this blog and 2) he suggested we go all the way out to Staten Island. Neither of us had been (though I have shamefully ridden the ferry half a dozen times, always sprinting around to catch it's return trip instead of actually visiting Staten Island) and it was clear we were both in for an adventure.
We hopped on the ferry only a few minutes after meeting at South station, trying to fill the minutes before take off ensuring we were actually on the date with, for example, lawyer17 (though, I should point out, my username is not that lame) v. hipster12. Once on the (FREE!) boat Tim showed me his MCAT flashcards (he's studying to become a doctor, sa-weet) sheepishly acknowledging how much of a nerd he was. Luckily, I heart the nerds.
Once we were officially in Staten Island we boarded S78, or, as I like to now call it, "hell on wheels". The driver must have taken something or had somewhere to be because I haven't been on a bus that fast since my field hockey team lost a championship game and the driver didn't want to have to put up with our adolescent tears. Finally, nearly two hours after we left wall street's shores, we had arrived.
Tim's phone steered us a stop too far (ah boys and their technology), but the extra ten minute jaunt through Staten Island made me gain a deeper appreciation for the place. My first thought upon seeing the island's insanely suburban-perfect houses? I am in Pleasantville. Suddenly I began craving sugary lemonade warmed by the sun in those little dixie cups. Preferably sold to me by a girlscout. Things got exciting, however, when we arrived at the conference house and looked out onto the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. I'm a sucker for water and immediately dove into my happy feeling that comes with viewing vast expanses of space (I blocked New Jersey with my hands).
After taking in the scenery Tim and I, pirate-like in our quest, read my passport's directions to discover the locked gate below the raised pavilion. Shouting in triumph I allowed Tim to turn the lock as we opened the gate upon the stuff teenager's rebellious natures are made on. In between flickers of light streaming from the wooden planks lay dead fish, graffiti about loving Victoria's mom, beer bottles and cigarettes. I seriously thought I had walked onto a John Cusak 80's movie set placed in the angrier parts of Cape Cod. Or, I now know, Staten Island.
Once we had thoroughly explored the spot, taken the free tickets to the Conference House tour, and left a note self-promoting this blog to future explorers, we made our way to the beach. Turns out Tim, not wanting to be outdone by the girl with the key, had done research on our spot and claimed the historical significance lay in the fact that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson sat on these very same sands to plan the battle which would give freedom to our country. Fittingly a veteran's ceremony was happening, literally, above our heads and we danced down the beach to the tunes of the Mason Dixie Line, picking up sandglass and spinal cords on our way.
After our near five-hour adventure Tim and I were STARVED. Apparently Staten Island boasts some of the best pizza in all five boroughs and Tim's smart phone searched until we found Salvatore of Soho! I was skeptical at first as I've eaten at a million places in NYC that claim to have "world famous" pizza but as soon as I stepped foot into Salvatore's I was sold. Not only did our definition-of-fabulous waitress Gabriella have a perfect Staten Island accent (big enough for you-alls) but my first bite of the house made dipping sauce for our perfect bread coupled with my tour of the checker-board styled room (complimented with a pull-chain bathroom) gave me a whole new appreciation for the forgotten borough.
Boy was the trip out here worth it! The salad was divine, the huge chunks of fresh mozzarella perfectly on point, and the pizza, oh the pizza. Crust bubbling with high temperature perfection, millions of herbs dancing on my taste buds, crispy pepperoni and a TO DIE FOR white pizza with the most spectacular ricotta (just hearing Gabriella say this word was divine) was quite possibly the best pizza I have had so far in NYC. Seriously just the smell of the garlic/cheese/bread infused white slice sent me spiraling into pizza heaven.
While ogling the food Tim and I talked about the inauguration, a farm he helped start in college, education in New York and the various research we've completed(on sharks and AIDS, respectively). It started to rain and Gabriella gave us free cake. By the end we wanted more, and though we were too stuffed for an extra helping of pizza we decided, right then and there, to go on our second date. Besides, there was no way we were getting back on that bus after the lunch we had just consumed.
Stay blogged to find out what adventure we had next, and how the date came to an end in the next installment: The Third Date.
And seriously, seriously, get your butt down to Salvatore's.