The new American Park at the Battery has a lot of competition, and it isn't just other restaurants in New York's fiercely competitive world of fine dining. It's the view. The restaurant, which opened last May to an excellent review from Gael Greene in New York, is located in a former Park's department maintenance shed (transformed beyond recognition), next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. It has the kind of breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline, harbor, and Statue of Liberty that can make you fall in love with New York all over again-a veritable feast for the eyes. So the fact that you forget about the scenery once your food arrives speaks volumes to the prowess of executive chef Rad Matmati.
"We gaze through the mist at the Staten Island ferry pushing off toward the Statue of Liberty, amazed by the enduring thrill of it," Greene wrote. "Even more amazing is lunch itself." Greene was impressed by the gorgeous food (Ruth Reichl called it "visually startling" in The New York Times) and by the kitchen's "sophisticated flavorings." Among the dishes Greene especially liked was a tender baby octopus that "nuzzles a rubble of Israeli couscous, olive slivers, and slices of baby artichoke."
That dish exemplifies Matmati's facility with seafood-a specialty of the American Park-as well as his flair with world flavors. Matmati began his career in the kitchen as a dishwasher, but soon worked his way up the line, eventually serving as sous-chef and chef de cuisine for two of America's seafood geniuses, Rick Moonen at Oceana and Ed Brown, then at Tropica. During Matmati's tenure at Oceana, the restaurant won three stars from Reichl. As executive chef at Can Restaurant, Matmati developed a sure hand with Asian and Mediterranean flavors. At American Park, he has devised an ambitious, eclectic, and exciting menu that skillfully blends tastes from America, Asia, and the Mediterranean with the spicy, beguiling flavors of his native Tunisia-the world on a plate.
Chicken Confit Dumplings
Avocado on Corn Chip Tortillas
Grilled Baby Octopus
Chilean Sea Bass
La Liberté Mocha Dome