The New York City waterfront just got a welcome addition. Tom Colicchio's Riverpark at the Alexandria boasts floor-to-ceiling views of the East River, and patio dining for the warmer months. Inside, the space is filled with dark woods and curvy leather seats that give it a sexy, sheik feel.
Riverpark is also quite affordable if you play it right. Cocktails start at $10 while a nice assortment of bottled and draft beers can be had at $5. We started with a "Smoky Manhattan" ($13) made with rye whiskey, Kagavulin single malt, vermouth and a drunken cherry. It's powerful. Just don't light a match near it. The Dark 'n' Stormy ($10) with Goslings rum and home-made ginger beer seemed overpowered by the ginger, while the Blackwell's Cove ($12) is a pina colada without the coconut which it desperately needs. Hopefully they'll rework the drinks. In the meantime, stick with beers like the Bitburger Pilsner ($5) and the Palm Belgian amber ale ($8). There's also a nice, if somewhat limited, wine selection starting at $9 a glass.
Begin your meal with some picks from the raw bar. Malpeque oysters arrived perfectly chilled and briny ($15 per 1/12 dz), or feast on some little necks ($10 per 1/2 dz) while taking in the river views. Appetizers here also excel. Braised octopus ($14) was a delight to the senses served with cockles in a spicy broth spiked with shishito peppers and a touch of cilantro. Pumpkin seed tortellini is also fabulous in a roasted squash soup and just a hint of fresh sage. It's the perfect dish for a chilly fall night. It comes in two sizes ($12/$18). You'll want to get the large. Mackerel Escabeche ($14) was also quite good, although the skin could have been a bit more crisp, and the portion size a bit larger.
Entrees include a scrumptious rack of lamb with roasted peppers and smoked eggplant. Diver scallops ($26) tasted as if they had just been plucked from the sea arriving with a hen of the woods, pear, butternut squash, kale chutney on the side. The pork chop ($24) was large and tender. It came with a wonderful brussels sprout-apple hash, and parsnip puree. But "medium" I felt was actually quite rare. If you like your pork white, not pink, order it well. Also on the menu is duck breast ($27) with black trumpet mushrooms, and meals for two; including roasted organic chicken ($55) and a dry aged rib steak ($68).
And don't pass on dessert. My dining companions were swooning over their goat cheesecake ($12) with with balsamic-roasted figs and pistachio. I preferred the beignets ($10), light puffy doughnuts served warm with a rum-chocolate sauce and vanilla custard for dipping. I could eat them everyday.
Mr. Colicchio and his partner, Sisha Ortúzar, have a few kinks to work out, including a bathroom that's quite a distance away in the lobby, but Riverpark appears to be a hit, and I can guarantee come summer that outside patio will surely be packed.