The new Zagat Survey is in, and the Bronx is cooking.
According to a sneak preview of the 2011 survey, 30 Bronx restaurants were featured in the 2011 edition of the guide, which has been telling foodies the best places to dine for nearly 30 years.
That number is a 25 percent leap over last year’s 24 that were rated in the guide. No restaurants were dropped from last year’s survey.
The new dining hot spots include: Ann & Tony’s on Arthur Avenue; New Hawaii Sea, a Chinese eatery on Westchester Square; NY Steak, on 161st Street; and Sammy’s Fishbox and the Black Whale, which are both on City Island.
For the annual guide hundreds of restaurants across the city are rated based on feedback from the survey’s readers. Restaurants are rated on food, decor, service and cost — with the highest rating being a 30.
“We’re definitely very honored to be in the guide,” Ralph Napolitano, part owner of Ann & Tony’s, said. “It’s a very prestigious guide and a lot of people follow it. Some people won’t go to eat at a place unless it’s listed, so we’re very honored.”
Since 1927 the restaurant has been serving up Italian favorites, never deviating from the recipes that were brought back from Italy by the grandparents of the current owners.
Since the food hasn’t changed in nearly a century, Napolitano is at a loss for why the restaurant was only recently included in the survey.
“We’re probably one of the oldest restaurants on Arthur Avenue. We haven’t really changed much,” he said. “It took them 82 years to figure us out I guess.”
One thing that has changed has been the clientele, Napolitano said. Whereas seeing people from Manhattan used to be a rarity, they are becoming frequent customers.
“I think it’s a matter of people wanting to venture out to find new things. They discovered that there’s all these great restaurants in these outer boroughs,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more people coming out of Manhattan for some reason, and I’m always asking. ‘How did you find us?’ They say they found us on the Internet, or they wanted to check out Arthur Avenue.”
For Bill Kenny, the chef and owner of the Black Whale, getting recognized has not taken as long.
“When we made it, I couldn’t believe it. It’s a really nice thing to accomplish and it’s been a professional goal of mine,” he said.
The restaurant has been at its City Island Avenue location since the early 1960s, but Kenny has been running it for only 13 years. He said while word-of-mouth is always the best way to bring in new customers, having more eateries from the Bronx will help enliven the borough’s restaurant scene as a whole.
“I hope this brings us broader appeal,” he said.
“I think the perception of the Bronx is getting better. I love the Bronx. It’s a great place to be.”