Lee’s Tavern is the type of place that makes a trip to Staten Island worth it when visiting New York City,
If you’re a native Staten Islander, a tourist, or someone living in another borough, I strongly recommend trying their signature thin crust pizza and uniquely battered calamari.
I grew up not too far from this dive bar that just happens to serve up great Italian classics. A friend of mine randomly took me there one day and ordered a pie with calamari on top along with a regular pie. Both were delicious, but I quickly started switching my orders up during my next few visits.
Friday nights were usually dedicated to pizza, especially as a Catholic during lent. So Lee’s became a place I’d frequent with my mom and dad, and with more visits, I was able to try a lot of different items on the menu.
Some of these items included the calamari with both hot and sweet sauce. Lee’s serves up large calamari rings with plenty of tentacles which I love (although lately there’s not that much of them). The batter used to fry it almost has a potato chip like taste and compliments the tender fish inside. The sauces are not just marina in a cup. They are thick, and the hot version is packed with plenty of spice. They resemble other types of tomato sauces that go with fish from places like Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Brooklyn.
After years of eating the fried calamari in its original form, Lee’s introduced a buffalo version with a side of blue cheese and I had to order it. Their buffalo sauce is spicy with a hint of sweetness. The tanginess of the blue cheese compliments the sauce perfectly, and the actual fish is still fried the same way.
It’s almost like a buffalo potato chip extravaganza and if you still have a hankering for the plain fried calamari, Lee’s lets you order a half and half platter.
Ok. Let’s move on to the pizza. If you go to Lee’s you can either order a regular sized pie or a bar pie. The bar pie option is great because it allows you to try some of their signature pizzas without having to waste too much if you end up not liking it.
The regular pie at Lee’s is excellent with its crispy thin crust, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and garlic flavored cheese. You can also order it with the usual toppings like onion, sausage, meatball and pepperoni. You really can’t go wrong with the regular pie, but you might wanna experiment with some of the specialty pizzas.
If you like clams, especially in a white sauce, then you need to have the clam pie. It’s a salty mix of clams, garlic, cheese and a crispy crust. It never tastes fishy and it always leaves you with a garlic butter like after taste that is pleasant, but might be off-putting to your significant other.
I also strongly recommend the chicken and hot pepper pie. The peppers are spicy and tangy, and the savory chicken compliments it perfectly. If you like a little heat, this might be the way to go.
Lee’s also makes a really good white pie with ricotta and cheese. I’d probably say it’s my favorite white pie in New York City.
And finally, Lee’s has the best fountain Coca-Cola bar none. This sounds silly, but if you’re a Coke enthusiast like myself, you notice when a fountain has either too much seltzer or syrup, or just not enough fizz. Lee’s seems to get the mix perfect, and I have to order a Coke every time I go there.
Lee’s is right off the Staten Island railroad, so if you’re visiting NYC, you can take the Staten Island ferry and then transfer to the train and take it to Dongan Hills stop to get there.
Address: 60 Hancock St, Staten Island, NY 10305