This past weekend in Rockaway, Rippers closed down with a set from Wild Yaks, the Riis Park Beach Bazaar got a send-off from the So So Glos, and the entire boardwalk went silent but for a few lone wolfs howling at the supermoon eclipse. But fear not, Rockaway die-hards: #beachvibes aren’t dead yet, because a new bar/restaurant will be holding down fort at Riis Park during the off-season.
The folks at the Beach Bazaar had such a great summer that they’ve decided to keep Bay 9 pavilion active in the form of a bar (dubbed Riis Point) that will share space with a restaurant operated by one of their vendors, Wildfeast. If you’re not familiar, you should be: we tried their grilled blowfish tails this past Friday and they were off the hook. Like, literally: fishmonger Keith Knott snagged them from some Long Island baymen.
Wildfeast, which doubles as a caterer, sources its fish locally and gets much of its meat from nearby as well. They turn ducks and pigs from Long Island into housemade prosciutto, and this past weekend they served a knockwurst that knocked it out of the park. Add to that, they sources veggies like tomatoes, peppers, baby eggplants, and squash from their own one-acre farm in North Fork, which is greenhoused during the winter.
Among the menu offerings at this first brick-and-mortar restaurant will be short-rib sliders, North Fork lamb, Long Island clam chowder, and (during Saturday and Sunday brunch) sweet-potato waffles, housemade scones, and a traditional Irish breakfast (Rockaway is the Irish Riviera, after all). There will also be one-offs like crab boils, farmers markets, and — yes — a Halloween dog costume contest.
Owner Mirijana Ujkic, who counts her brother Valentino Ujkic as executive chef, learned the value of locavorism and sustainability from a family in Montenegro that has a history of setting up local smokehouses, raising animals, and making artisan goods like honey and rakija (a grappa-like plum brandy).
Who knows whether Montenegro moonshine will be on offer at the bar. This much is certain: the folks at Riis Park Beach Bazaar will have a new menu of craft cocktails. And the whole shebang is launching Oct. 10 and 11 with an oceanfront Octoberfest featuring a keg-equipped “party wagon.”
After that, the restaurant will be open (and delivering!) Thursday through Sunday (and perhaps for Monday Night Football, since the bar will be equipped with flat-screens). There’ll be a few dozen stools along the counter, but you’ll probably want to grab one of the tables for the best view of the ocean from the bay windows.
As for when the Brooklyn Night Bazaar might return to North Brooklyn, the market’s owner, Belvy Klein, assured us he and his partner Aaron Broudo are still actively looking. “But the real estate in Brooklyn is just so ridiculously off the charts,” he said. “Even the cheapest places we’re looking at to return with the Night Bazaar, they’re not double but at least triple what we were paying at the warehouse in Greenpoint. We need 20,000 square feet – the kind of quotes we’re getting from building owners, you’re talking a million and a half a year of rent alone.”
In the meantime, the Beach Bazaar has a lock on Riis Park until 2020 — which is the next best thing to an endless summer.
Wildfeast at Riis, 157 Rockaway Blvd at Bay 9 Pavilion in Jacob Riis Park, Thursday and Friday from 3pm to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 10pm