Zagat gives local restaurants a boost


By Jason Fields

Not long ago, when the Zagat ratings came out, Riverdale restaurateurs yawned.

Why pay attention to the U.S.’s most popular restaurant reviews if you’re never on the list?

All that’s changed in the last few years, and when the results came out on Wednesday, October 7, owners were paying attention.

“Being in Zagat does make a difference,” said Peggy Ryan, owner of Jake’s Steakhouse on Broadway near West 246th Street.

The restaurant, which got a 23 out of 30 in this year’s guide for the food it serves, gets a boost to its business from being included in the book, Ms Ryan said. It’s been especially helpful in grabbing the attention of parents visit their kids in college at Fordham, Mount St. Vincent or Manhattan, and they’re looking for some place to take them to eat, she said.

Before, they might not have even known that Jake’s exists, now they can find good food without having to travel into Manhattan.

So far there are only five restaurants in the 10463 and 10471 ZIP codes that have made it into the print version of the guide, garnering enough completed survey forms from customers to qualify. All reviews are generated through forms that are filled out on the Zagat Survey Web site,, though more local restaurants can be found there. If you’re a member of the site — for which you pay a monthly or annual fee — you can add restaurants on your own and review them. Other members can then add their own opinions.

Tim Zagat, who founded the survey as a hobby in 1979, and is a graduate of Riverdale Country School — class of 1957 — says that Riverdale deserves some attention for the variety of cuisines on offer.

“I think there are more restaurants in the Riverdale area [today] and more that are good,” he said. “Riverdale is a very sophisticated, eclectic neighborhood with people that like all kinds of food. They like Indian one night, Chinese the next night, Thai the next and then steak.”

Mr. Zagat’s tried several restaurants in the area himself, including Jake’s and Liebman’s, the kosher deli, but his favorite is just over Riverdale’s northern border.

“I think that Peter Kelly’s place in Yonkers is fabulous,” he said, speaking of X2O Xaviar’s on the Hudson.

He does have a couple of suggestions on how to improve the dining scene in Riverdale.

“Riverdale should have at least one great restaurant. Between Riverdale and Fieldston there’s a lot wealth, and I think they can support it,” Mr. Zagat said.

Zagat’s picks in Riverdale


5704 Mosholu Ave. (bet.
Fieldston Rd. & Spencer
Ave.) Bronx, NY 10471
Phone: 718-432-2604

Food      Decor       Service     Cost
22           16              20            $35

One of Riverdale’s “best,” this “cute” Bronx Italian has a “big following” for its “expertly prepared” “homestyle” cooking offered up in “big portions” at low prices; however, “small” dimensions, “friendly” but “slow” service and a no-reservations policy mean there’s often a “wait.”

El Malecon

5592 Broadway (231st St.)
Bronx, NY 10463
Phone: 718-432-5155

Food       Decor      Service     Cost
21              8             14             $20

Rotisserie chicken “worth crossing the road for” is the “crowdpleasing” specialty at this Uptown-Bronx threesome that also dispenses other “authentic Dominican” grub – and “lots of it” – “for cheap;” those who don’t dig “diner decor” get takeout or “lightning-speed” delivery.

Jake’s Steakhouse

6031 Broadway (242nd St.)
Bronx, NY 10471
Phone: 718-581-0182

Food      Decor       Service    Cost
23            19              21           $55

“What a surprise!” cry carnivores at this Riverdale steakhouse, where “top-of-the-line,” houseaged beef (courtesy of meatwholesaler owners) is “served up with class;” there’s a handsome upstairs space “overlooking Van Cortlandt Park,” and it’s a “good value” to boot.


552 W. 235th St. (Johnson
Ave.) Bronx, NY 10463
Phone: 718-548-4534

Food       Decor       Service   Cost
21              9              18           $23

An “authentic” representation of a “dying breed,” this “oldfashioned,” low-budget kosher deli in the Bronx “does all the standards well,” from “wonderful knishes” to “delicious” overstuffed sandwiches; sure, the decor is “nothing to write home about,” but that’s a given for the genre.


5686 Riverdale Ave. (259th
St.) Bronx, NY 10471
Phone: 718-543-3850

Food       Decor       Service       Cost
20             17             19              $44

“Well-supported by the neighborhood,” this “solid, steady” Italian in Riverdale’s “culinary wasteland” delivers “dependable” dining in a “cozy, candlelit” setting; its rather “upscale” ambitions are reflected in costs that are “a bit pricey for the area,” but the overall word is “what’s not to like?”

Siam Square

564 Kappock St. (Henry Hudson
Pkwy.) Bronx, NY 10463
Phone: 718-432-8200

Food        Decor        Service        Cost
23              17              22                $35

A “step up from the usual,” this “neighborhood” Riverdale Thai in an “unlikely location” offers “delicious” food; forget the “dingy exterior:” inside, you’ll find a “relaxing atmosphere” and “well-below-Manhattan prices.”

Courtesy of Zagat Survey