2008 awe reader`s poll did you endorse the incumbents or

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2008 awe reader`s poll did you endorse the incumbents or
2008 AWE
READER’S
POLL
DID YOU ENDORSE THE
INCUMBENTS OR VOTE
FOR CHANGE? READ ON
TO SEE WHO THE PUBLIC
ELECTED STATEN ISLAND’S
BEST ENTERTAINERS.
BY ROB BAILEY•
MICHAEL J. FRESSOLA•
BEN JOHNSON•
PATRICIA LIMATO•
JODI LEE REIFER•
PA M E L A S I LV E ST R I •
LISA ANN WILLIAMSON
cover
2008AWEREADER’SPOLL: LIVE&LOCALMUSIC
BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE: ST. GEORGE THEATRE
If there is a diamond in the rough on the North Shore, it is the
St. George Theatre, 35 Hyatt St.; StGeorgeTheatre.com. Don’t get
us wrong, the restored interior looks amazing, and with diverse
talents like Tony Bennett, Wayne Newton, Garrison Keillor and
David Johansen in the house, you know it’s capable of first class
status. But the borough’s beautiful venue remains underrated
off-Island because it still needs to book some of those “young,
hip” shows that are NYC’s bread and butter. Whatever; that’s our
gripe. The readers deemed the St. George the best live stage on
Staten Island, and we totally agree. Here’s hoping this win is the
beginning of bigger, better things for the historic venue.
BEST SOLO ARTIST (FEMALE): JOAN CADDELL
BEST COVER BAND: NO STANDARDS
One question: Did Joan win because she’s good, or
because she takes naked pictures with guitars? She
should get points for both, but we’ll go with the
former — after all, we didn’t run a picture of her
record “The Naked Truth” with the poll. Seriously
though, there’s no question this folk-rocker — who
by daylight runs her own law firm — epitomizes
female empowerment in melodic form, so her win
is no surprise. Sample the sound:
MySpace.com/joancaddellband.
People talk a lot of smack, but you know what?
If you’re in search of a hard-working, sweatsoaked group of musicians who ain’t too proud
to rock, look no further than Staten Island’s
bevy of cover bands. The best-voted group this
year was No Standards, a quartet of dudes who
break the mold by covering just the stuff they
dig: Punk, synth rock and, of course, Montell
Jordan’s “This is How We Do It.” Can you
blame our readers for loving a band that takes
lyrics like “you can go your own way” literally?
We would expect nothing less from a band
whose official motto is “bringin’ the party.”
Runners up close enough to mention are the
ever-present SexPot Scandal and Bob Kaiser
and Friends. Sample the sound:
MySpace.com/nostandardsband
PHOTO BY MIKE SHANE
BEST IMPOSSIBLE TO LABEL BAND OR DUO: WAHOO SKIFFLE CRAZIES
If there were categories in our poll for best band flyers and best guerrilla gigs, Wahoo would win those, too. The band’s selfimposed label has long been the Island’s “Premiere Jug Band,” but as we all know, it’s the only one, and that title doesn’t do it
justice anyway. Ancient and modern protest songs, plenty of S.I. referencing, and instruments like the stumpf fiddle, saw and
washtub bass have always kept this enjoyable group of rabble rousers hard to pigeon-hole, but the rotating group of musicians
doesn’t hurt. The beauty of the Wahoo is it kind of appeals to everyone, whether it’s your hippie uncle, your hipster little sis, or
your buddy with the spiked hair. Why? Check ‘em out live, and see if you can stop yourself from stomping and clapping along.
Then you’ll get it. Sample the sound: MySpace.com/wahooskifflecrazies.
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST ORIGINAL BAND/DUO: AVON JUNKIES
AWE FILE PHOTO
Avon Junkies have always been good at involving
their fans. Getting people to take pictures with
band tees (and tats) on, bringing in teeny boppers to help film their professional-grade music
video (for “Let Me In”) at Dock Street — this
type of marketing is how you gain and keep a
cult following. But fun with fans does not a great
band make. Why is Avon Junkies this year’s Best
Original Rock Band? Probably because they
spend a lot of time tightening their music, which
is equally influenced by ska, pop punk and alt
rock. And with a new record, “The Merchant’s
Tale,” out, they’re probably also expanding the
base in more traditional ways. Why are we psyched for them? South Shore representin’! Sample
the sound: MySpace.com/avonjunkies
BEST CLASSICAL ACT: STATEN ISLAND PHILHARMONIC
This landslide win is the perfect complement to conductor Jose
Alejandro Guzman’s stellar September production of Bernstein’s
“On the Town.” SIPhilharmonic.org.
PHOTO BY DANIELLE MARIE WARD
BEST DIVA:
NICOLE PIGNATELLI
BEST SOLO
POP/ROCK ARTIST
(MALE): KILGORE
TROUT IS DEAD
Like his namesake,
Kilgore Trout is Dead
sort of came out of
the ether ... of
Stapleton. Everybody
in the scene knew
Ezra Donellan already
because he does stage lighting and gets a
picture of his tattoo in AWE every week,
but then his mom gave him a ukulele. All
of a sudden, dude was layering loops like
a one-man band in an anti-gravity chamber, and we were all “Wait, you play
music!?” The rest, as they say, is history
— Donellan is now a fixture of the local
original scene, and for good reason. It
should be noted that the race was tight —
Terrible Tim almost won! That would
have been quite the upset. Next year,
Terrible Tim, next year. Sample the
sound: MySpace.com/thetiredside
BEST DJ: DJ 3D, AKA
EDWIN TROTMAN
Going into his
studio/apartment in
Concord is like entering
a chamber for testing
the effects of heavy
incense smoke on
humans. But hey, whatever gets the music
flowing, right? In
Trotman’s case, it’s not
just that — it’s also the
36-year-old’s commitment to Rastafarianism,
AWE FILE PHOTO his long list of local collaborators, and his always-burning love for dancehall, conscious reggae and dub music. Ask anyone
who’s been around for a few years, and they’ll tell
you DJ 3D is a main ingredient of the scene, doing
old-school skateboarding tricks and hitting the
record decks from Martini Red to Harlem. Houseloving DJ Anthony Acid and local trouble-maker DJ
Dave Elliott were solid runners up. Sample the
sound: MySpace.com/iceboxinternationaljd3d
PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE ARTIST
BEST HIP-HOP ACT: RENAGADE MUSIK
The story of Staten Island hip-hop never dies, it just
goes underground. Everybody and their mother
knows Wu-Tang, and thinks they’re the only group
on Shaolin. Well, no offense, but your mom needs to
get out more, and so do you, rap fan. Rappers have
been coming out of the woodwork lately, but after
seeing Renagade Musik perform recently, we aren’t the least bit surprised
that this singer-rapper won.
Anthony Weston (pictured
right), 29, of Stapleton, has been
doing it at least since 1996 (we
have the pictures to prove it), and
on the mic, he’s the type of performer to raise a few hairs on your
neck. But a couple of others drew a
lot of votes — Niki Bond knows
how to hustle, and if we combined
the votes from members of Jett
Row (Matty Doobs, Cotton Weary
and V-Jett), this would have been a
real nail-biter. Sample the sound:
MySpace.com/renagademusik
AWE FILE PHOTO
This one came out of left
field. Not that we didn’t
know — after all, as part of
The Bandulos, one of the
hardest, most diverse
working bands in local
show biz, this 21-year-old
was definitely a contender.
But going up against established names like Queen
Tipsy’s Phyllis Foreman,
this little gal with big pipes
pulled ahead and won it all
(just squeaking by SexPot
Scandal’s Lucie
Terranova). If you’ve
checked out Pignatelli and
her bandmates, you’ve
probably heard her belt
out Aretha’s “Respect.”
Now it takes on some new
meaning. Sample the
sound: Bandulos.com
ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST CROONER: JOHN BUCCHERI
COURTESY THE ARTIST
We have to admit, this Annadale song stylist
looked like a darkhorse (err, teddy bear?) candidate against his slicker, more well-known
competitors. But apparently Buccheri’s renditions of timeless tunes by Sinatra,
Humperdinck, Mathis and the like made quite
an impression on readers who were caught off
guard by his warm tone and delivery at various
Staten Island Italian eateries. Still, it’s worth
noting that veteran vocalists Al Lambert and
Vito Picone both scored (and most likely split)
a respectable number of votes. Sample the
sound: JohnBuccheri.com.
BEST JAZZ/BLUES ACT: RAY SCRO
We eventually realized that it was dumb to put Curtis High School Jazz and
Mike Morreale/Ray Scro Big Band down as separate entities for this category, since Scro is instrumental in both outfits. So you know what? Scro gets it.
Anybody who knows jazz on Staten Island is aware that this saxophone player, teacher and band leader is one of the best cats we have to offer, and both
of his groups got plenty of votes to put them in the lead. Whether he’s helping the Staten Island Composers Project go off at the St. George Theatre,
doing his duties at Curtis with panache, or taking his jazz and blues trio This
Old House to Historic Richmond Town’s tavern concerts, Scro is always
cooking. Keep giving us that jazz, man.
BEST HOMEGROWN
ACT GONE BIG:
CHRISTINA AGUILERA
Are you kidding us?
Christina? Really? No
Budos or Ingrid or Wu?
Ooookaaaay. Maybe
we’re just jaded
because when we asked
the Eltingville native
diva to give us a shoutout during an interview,
we got frostbite, icequeen style. Apparently
Xtina doesn’t like to
give love to S.I. (granted, she moved elsewhere while still in diapers, not chaps). Oh
well, that didn’t stop
AWE readers from giving love to her. And
who are we to judge?
Maybe she’ll stop
through on tour for her
new greatest hits
album, “Keeps Gettin’
Better: A Decade of
Hits,” coming Nov. 7
exclusively at Target
stores.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE ARTIST
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST TOUR STOP ATTRACTION: TONY BENNETT
Tony Bennett might not have left his heart in
Staten Island, but the classic crooner definitely
left an indelible impression on readers who
caught his latest performance at the St. George
Theatre. With a voice of platinum and the kind
of easy-going class that comes from being raised
by an Italian grocer in Queens, Bennett is one of
the greatest pop vocalists of all time. Here’s hoping he comes back soon — this American treasure can still swing with the best of ‘em.
21
20
Hint: Do not, under any circumstances, order a martini at Stapleton’s Martini Red, 372 Van Duzer St.;
Stapleton; Martini-Red.com. It’s not that kind of place. And don’t expect to hear the live band’s lyrics
— it’s not that kind of sound system. So how did Martini Red win? Sometimes a bar becomes the hub
of the homegrown original music scene because there’s a realness to it — a feeling that it’s a joint
where the things you want to know about are happening. The owners, the drink-pourers and the
underground art itself, being created for all the right reasons — these things matter, too. So does the
crowd you find there. Whatever it is, Martini Red has it. According to our readers, so does Adobe
Blues and Dugout Pub — two spots that also had huge vote tallies.
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE • ADVANCE WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT • THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2008
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE • ADVANCE WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT • THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2008
BEST LIVE MUSIC BAR: MARTINI RED
cover
2008AWEREADER’SPOLL: FOOD/RESTAURANTS
BEST SUSHI: FUSHIMI
Super fresh fish selections
(sometimes flown in from
Japan) make Fushimi at
2110 Richmond Rd., Grant
City; 718-980-5300; the
top choice of AWE readers. The clubby vibe
keeps 20-something types
lingering at the bar, but
most importantly, seafood
is fresh, beautifully presented and chefs go the
extra mile on thoughtful
plate presentations.
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT: TRATTORIA ROMANA
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST SPECIALTY FOOD
SHOP: PASTOSA
AWE PHOTO / KACEY SEMLER
Elsie DeForest and Tyler Sartwell enjoy brunch at Cargo Cafe.
BEST BRUNCH: CARGO CAFE
Eclectic fare and an anything-goes atmosphere make
this St. George bar-eatery at 120 Bay St. AWE readers’
preferred spot for casual brunching. Get the newspaper
and (of course, catch up on AWE news) over eggs benedict, a burger and a stiff, spicy Bloody Mary. Check the
menu at CargoCafe.com.
Great cheese selection,
fresh cold cuts, excellent
olive and infused oil varieties, good bread and
pasta are among the reasons why the customer
lines start forming hours
before store opens on
holidays. On an average
business day, service is
attentive and outstanding.
There are several stores
around the borough but
the West Brighton one is
the reader favorite (764
Forest Ave., West
Brighton; 718-420-9000.)
Chef/owner Vittorio Asoli is certainly the best restaurant promoter in town with ambitious, food channel-type cooking
classes and festive seasonal displays (i.e. in August at the
height of tomato season, the staff paraded around the restaurant with bushels of fresh tomatoes). Yet Trattoria at 1476
Hylan Blvd., Dongan Hills; 718-980-3113; also wins palates with
its wood burning oven-baked pizza, consistent and simple
Italian dishes and a fine way with customer service. Running a
close second: It’s pretty. It’s got good curb appeal and a nice
backyard garden. Plus, Zest at 977 Bay St., Rosebank; 718-3908477; serves good food on its limited Franco-American menu.
Another nice feature that zests things up: Co-owner Oksana
Dergunova works the front of the house with a staff that does
its best to attend to detail.
BEST TAVERN TASTES:
LACEY’S BRIDGE TAVERN
AWE FILE PHOTO
Sunday brunch, family-style
meals and super cold beer are
reasons to make Lacey’s, 75
Innis St., Elm Park; 718-273-7514;
a regular pitstop. Hit items here
include meatloaf, steamed mussels and kielbasa. Fresh raw bar
food is offered for cheap during
weekday happy hours. The
back dining room is available
for private parties and a la
carte dining.
BEST ETHNIC EATS: SINGLELICIOUS
BEST BAKERY: THE COOKIE JAR
AWE FILE PHOTO
This charming shop at 1226 Forest Ave., West Brighton;
718-448-3500; uses real butter in dozens of cookie varieties and a wall of namesake jars make it an overall
great food experience. With good customer service, the
store certainly stands out. A close second: Readers are
sweet on Royal Crown Bakery Cafe’s breads as well as
cookies, cakes and Italian pastries. Plus the spot at 1350
Hylan Blvd., Grasmere; 718-668-0284; is good for peoplewatching as the crowds and bustle are constant.
AWE FILE PHOTO
Singlelicious of Port Richmond may have closed this summer,
but it’s certainly was not forgotten with some 2,000-plus votes.
The top vote-getter still in business: Ayder Turkish Restaurant.
This joint at 1400 Forest Ave., Port Richmond; 718-448-6835;
offers fish, great housemade gyros, salads and seriously good
baklava. The restaurant also now delivers.
BEST CHAIN: OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE
Despite hundreds of independent, locally owned restaurants
around the borough, readers are big on beef with Outback in
The Crossings at The Staten Island Mall; 718-761-3907. What
can we say? It’s a chain with slick ads, bargain food and massproduced chow. Business is bloomin’ seven days a week.
PHOTO COURTESY OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE
2008AWE
READER’SPOLL:
WEB/BLOGOSPHERE
BEST HOUSEMADE DESSERTS:
DOSI CAFFE
DoSI’s chocolate budino and everchanging non-chocolate desserts
are impressive. Of course, we’re
plopping fresh whipped cream on
those plates as well. This spot at
695 Bay St., Stapleton; 718-4200091; doesn’t skimp on flavor and
puts an exciting spin on Italian
classics including those in the
dessert category.
BEST WEB SITE:
DOGANDPONY
SHOWWEB
SITE.COM
AWE PHOTO / BILL LYONS
BEST WATERFRONT VIEW: R.H. TUGS
DoSI’s Lemon budino
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST PIZZA:
DENINO’S
PIZZERIA
TAVERN
A curious mix of industrial activity and quiet moments intrigues diners at this waterfront restaurant at 1115 Richmond Terr., Livingston; 718447-6369; RHTugs.com. The section of the Kill van Kull overlooking
Bayonne is also known as Tugboat Alley, according to restaurant coowner Peter Roskowinski. The tugs — hence the eatery’s name —
share the waters with enormous container ships. “At night, the lights in
Bayonne are amazing. It’s sparkling. Then you’ll get a ship that will
wipe out all these lights. It’s fascinating.”
BEST ITALIAN: DaNoi
Readers still
love this classic
at 524 Port
Richmond Ave.,
Port Richmond;
AWE FILE PHOTO 718-442-9401;
where the crunchy crusted pizza
that is on the thicker side of thin.
Fried calamari and good sangria
bring chowhounds from around
NYC to the borough who are looking for the best in the way of pies.
AWE FILE PHOTO
Straightforward Italian fare is the mainstay at this red-toned and dark woodlined dining destination. One great
thing about DaNoi — both the one at
138 Fingerboard Rd., Fort Wadsworth;
718-720-1650; and the winning Travis
spot at 4358 Victory Blvd.; 718-982-5040
— is that repeat customers are recognized and rewarded with extra-accommodating service. In general, though,
the staff and owners can’t do enough
on hospitality for guests.
BEST ATMOSPHERE (UPSCALE): SOUTH FIN GRILL
Fin fans are loving the high ceilings, abstract sea theme and partially open kitchen, all details that contribute
to the vibe of the eatery at 300 Capodanno Blvd., South Beach; 718-447-7679. This is upscale dining for
seafood lovers who dig clams, oysters and chilled shellfish. Hey, it’s one of the few places on our Island that
know how to display raw food with a bit of froo-froo.
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST ATMOSPHERE (CASUAL): ADOBE BLUES
BEST SERVICE: VIDA
Great margaritas, a comprehensive, worldwide
beer list and Tex Mex fare colors the Adobe
experience at 63 Lafayette Ave., New Brighton;
718-720-2583. Enjoy the restaurant’s late night
menu replete with buffalo burgers and grazingtype foods. Keep in mind that evening meals
occasionally come with entertainment — blues,
of course — which focuses on some of S.I.’s best
local artists.
Eclectic, urban and
very relaxed, owner
Silva Popaz may be
your server and cook
alongside other knowledgeable, friendly
staffers. Vida’s “world
cuisine” menu hangs
its hat on hearty foods
such as pulled pork,
Eastern European
stews and stick-toyour-rib soups jacked
up with fresh herbs.
Plus, 381 Van Duzer St.,
Stapleton; 718-720-1501;
is also an excellent
option for vegans and
vegetarians.
BEST HEALTHY CHOICE: TUTTORISO RISTORANTE CAFE
If you’re gluten-free and looking for a little food love, put
Tuttoriso at 36 Richmond Terr., St. George; 718-273-7644;
on your map. Tourists — i.e. non-Staten Islanders who
actually stay put after the ferry lands — who are tuned
into the flour-free way of life put this restaurant on their
must-dine list when they visit NYC. See the menu at
TuttorisoCafe.com.
AWE FILE PHOTO
When we wrote
our cover story
about Dog And
Pony Show, members told us their
plan was to generate content with the help
of a loosely connected gang of amateur
actors, movie makers, bloggers, podcasters
and loudmouths. Well, we said they were
Web-savvy semi-geniuses, and the tag
stuck — it’s now their Web site slogan.
DAPS’ stuff isn’t for the faint of heart, and
it’s quantity, not quality, that they work
toward in their blogs, videos, etc. But you
have to hand it to these boys and girls —
more often than not, the stuff found on
their site is hilarious, provocative, interesting or all three. And their gang is growing
so break yourself, fool.
BEST VIRAL VIDEOS: THE DOG AND
PONY SHOW (DAPS)
Homosexuwhales. Wait, can we print that?
Too late. If you haven’t seen any of the viral
videos from Dog and Pony Show yet
(“Homosexuwhales” has over 50,000
views), you probably ought to. Granted,
they’re rated PG-13 at least, but so was
“Dumb and Dumber.” And not all of ‘em are
hilarious. But these crazy, hyper-motivated
kids have got something going for them.
BEST BLOG: THE
UNBLINKING
EAR.BLOGSPOT.
COM
Let’s all admit it:
Paul Bruno is a
jerk. Or at least
he pretends to
be. But spend
some time with the guy — and our readers obviously have — and you’ll see he
just happens to give a darn about music in
a major way; enough to tell you that
maybe you don’t know jack about it. Often
this is actually true, when people compare
themselves to Bruno, who very possibly
should take up permanent residence in a
cave at the top of a small mountain so that
people wanting to learn about Pere Ubu,
The Fall and Clamtones can take a pilgrimage. Luckily for all of us, we live in
the age of the Internet, so you can just go
to Bruno’s blog and disagree with him.
You’ll probably get farther by listening to
his long podcasts of underground music,
though, which are pretty awesome.
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2008AWEREADER’SPOLL: ARTS/VISUAL/STAGE
BEST IMPROV ACT: THE TENDERLOINS
Wicked. Smart. Funny. This quartet of comedians
are never anything less. These days, the troupe
isn’t doing much live improv, but they are making viral videos (Tenderloins.com, MySpace.
com/thetenderloinsnyc). Their sketches about
‘Geico Guidos,’ blind cops and Wii addicts have
netted them millions of downloads. Between
now and the holidays, several new videos will go
online. And coming soon:
Tenderloins TV.
The crew — Farrell High 1994 grads James
Murray, Joe Gatto, Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano
— shot a pilot for Spike TV over the summer. It’s
being edited in L.A. at the moment. If Spike
orders the series, the guys will produce season
one on S.I. in 2009.
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST VISUAL ARTIST: SCOTT LOBAIDO
Very, very few artists — on or off the Island — toe the conservative Republican, flag-waving straightand-narrow so loud and proud as Scott Lobaido. Artists — filmmakers, poets, musicians, dancers,
playwrights — usually lean left. Lobaido stands as the exception that proves the rule. No conservative position is too loathsome, separatist or lily white for him. Nevertheless, he earns props for sticking to his guns (and he thinks you should own some firearms and stick to yours, too). We’re guessing
his AWE win has less to do with his politics and more to do with his work. As the sole exterior
muralist of the Cargo Cafe for a decade now, Lobaido has probably had more public exposure than
any other S.I. artist, ever. One way or another, the whole borough drives past the Cargo, right on Bay
Street, a couple of blocks from the ferry. Lobaido’s done catch-in-the-throat patriotism on the St.
George bar’s plain one-story exterior. He’s done abstract art. He’s done war-mongering and mourning. Our favorite? Last season’s avian bad-acid trip, the one where huge gaudy parrots were gnawing
on human beings ... probably Democrats.
BEST STANDUP COMIC:
SOUL JOEL RICHARDSON
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST GALLERY/EXHIBITION SPACE:
ALICE AUSTEN HOUSE MUSEUM
There are far bigger local galleries than the
two small, white-walled exhibition areas of the
Alice Austen House Museum (AliceAusten.
org), where world-class photographs are regular fare. In-house curator Paul Moakley understands that size doesn’t matter — 25 photographs can be as powerful as a 300-piece bigmuseum behemoth. Even more important, he’s
well aware of the competition. The panorama
of the Narrows/Harbor/Brooklyn/Manhattan
unfolds distractingly on the front lawn at 2
Hylan Blvd. in Rosebank. Nevertheless, the
view indoors is so good, you’re perfectly content to shut it out.
Whether he’s wisecracking about his 87-year-old
granddad, culling material from his day job as a
pharmaceutical rep, or engineering a comedy
movement on S.I., Richardson (SoulJoel.com)
may very well be the hardest-working stand-up
in the borough. This Greenridge resident hosts
at least two comedy showcases a month on S.I.
— usually at the 13th Hour Pub or DugOut Pub
& Grill. That’s in between slots at
NYC clubs such as Comix and
Gotham Comedy Club. In
July, Soul Joel organized the
ambitious four-day Staten
Island Comedy Festival. The
finale at the St. George
Theatre brought to the borough national headliners Kenny
Michaels and
Otto & George
from XM
Satellite
Radio’s
“Opie &
Anthony
Show.”
AWE FILE
PHOTO
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST AUTHOR/PLAYWRIGHT/
POET: MARGUERITE MARIA
RIVAS, "LAUGHTER, HOPE AND A
SOCK IN THE EYE"
It’s almost an insult to try and sum
up in short why AWE readers
chose this woman over close second playwrightturned-novelist Linda Nieves-Powell (“Free
Style”). The uninitiated would be better served to
check out the unofficial (or is it official now?) poet
laureate of S.I.’s alternately pastoral, pure and profane prose at MySpace.com/margueritemariarivas.
Caitlin McGee, left,
in “The Furies.”
AWE FILE PHOTO
BEST ACTRESS: CAITLIN MCGHEE, “HOW I
LEARNED TO DRIVE” & “THE FURIES”
Standing ovation: Pretty, photogenic Caitlin
McGee has been one of the bright lights of the
Wagner College stage. The hilltop theater
department sends product to Broadway regularly.
After exceptional turns in last year’s wildly different “How I Learned to Drive” and “The
Furies,” McGee could certainly follow Wag-alumnae Randy Graff, Betsy Joslyn, Janine LaManna
and Kathy Brier into pro show biz.
BEST TOUR STOP ATTRACTION: IRA GLASS, “THE AMERICAN LIFE” AT THE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
You know a performer’s got something worthy up his sleeve when he
starts his show in the dark, enrapturing his audience with only his
speaking voice and lights from a sound board. The mesmerizing
force? The host of National Public Radio’s “This American Life.” Last
April, the master storyteller performed a mash-up of his weekly pro-
gram at the College of Staten Island, proving why, with 1.7 million
regular listeners, his podcast is one of the most popular in the country. Glass dissected what makes a story resonate, while taking questions from the audience about everything from his ordinary guy voice
to how musical clips are selected to accompany story segments.
BEST DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER
CATT, “WAIT UNTIL DARK” &
“MY FAIR LADY”
BEST OVERALL PRODUCTION: “WAIT UNTIL DARK,”
SNUG HARBOR PERFORMING ARTS DEPARTMENT
With “Wait Until Dark” Catt sustained a palpable sense of danger
throughout a revival that could
just as easily have been predictable. He casts strong actors
and allows them to make discoveries. Again in “My Fair Lady” he
made the unusual decision to pit
AWE FILE PHOTO
Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle as
father/daughter rather than love interests, making
for more interesting dynamics and utilizing the
instincts of his actors.
This was not just another community theater revival.
All the pieces — from the fine set by Joanna Sim to
the fresh take on the Susy character by star Nicole
Juliett Libby — came together. Libby’s strength
changed the dynamics of the show, allowing for a
greater exploration of the gentle balance of power
and fostering a heightened horror as we
watched the deterioration of courage into
fear. This set up a surprising evening of
suspense and terror — even for
those who were familiar
with the 1968 film version starring
Audrey Hepburn.
BEST ACTRESS/MUSICAL:
KATHLEEN FEHRLE, “MY FAIR LADY”
PHOTO BY AARON MEIER
Billy Piscopo and
Nicole Juliett Libby
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BEST ACTOR: STEVE GOFFIN, "THE
MAYOR OF THE NORTH SHORE”
RYANBILLINGSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Steve Goffin and Tim Duffy
Before you get mad, Steve, please try and
savor the fact that you won, beating out
several talented actors with the help of
your constituents. Yes, you informed us
rather grumpily that your policy speeches
during the (fake) mayoral race reflected
many of your real views, and nobody’s trying to say you aren’t serious about better
public transportation, etc., etc on Staten
Island. But, I mean, come on. For your
debates at Cargo Cafe and Martini Red, you
dressed as a revolutionary— sort of like
Che’s character in “Evita,” to be exact. It
was obviously an act, and it was a role you
were meant for. And that’s why none of the
mud-slinging and negative campaigning by
Tim Duffy, right, and his operatives could
take you down. You won — by four votes
— the title of Mayor of the North Shore.
You won by many more in this race, Mr.
Goffin. Congrats!
BEST WAGNER
GRAD ON
BROADWAY:
BRIAN LETENDRE,
“MARY POPPINS”
The classically
trained singerdancer started in
the ensemble but
in quick-fashion
was upgraded to
featured dancer
for more than a
year. The blueeyed blond made
his Broadway
debut in 2003’s
short-lived
“Urban Cowboy,”
originating the
role of Baby Boy.
Letendre followed
that with a
ensemble/understudy stint in
Twyla Tharp and
Billy Joel’s megahit, “Moving Out,”
in 2005. Now he’s
busy with tours
and auditions for
his next big role.
BEST DANCE COMPANY: STATEN ISLAND BALLET
Ellen Tharp’s sinewy, sensual troupe deservedly
scored the most votes in this category. Now if we
could just get them to give us more than three productions a year. Check StatenIslandBallet.com for info
about December’s upcoming “Nutcracker” performances.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY STATEN ISLAND BALLET
This recent Wagner College grad uses her natural
sass and incredible singing voice to create a truly
believable character. She’s making her mark on the
local theater scene with honest portrayals of a
variety of characters. Her Eliza Doolittle was no
different, showing each victory and failure in a
way that connects with the hearts of the audience,
so that we cheer even more for her wins.
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PHOTO
BEST ACTOR/MUSICAL: JOHN GRIFFIN,
“PIPPIN’” & “MY
FAIR LADY”
Griffin has the uncanny
ability to wrap himself
around whatever character he’s playing and
make it memorable.
He’s not even afraid of
the occasional ad lib.
Even when it’s small
parts as in “Wait Until
Dark” he brings his special energy. It made him
the perfect ringmaster
AWE FILE PHOTO in “Pippin” who could
connect with the audience when he was offering
licorice candy or summing up the demise of a
fellow character. You count on him for a solid
portrayal which explains why he’s won this
honor for the second time.
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2008AWEREADER’SPOLL: COCKTAILS/CLUBS/BARS
BEST BARTENDER:
JOE SEFERSHAYAN
OF AFTERNOONE’S
BEST DANCE FLOOR: ILLUSIONS
Sef’s fans are generally brutal. They
slam him about his
questionable fantasy
football picks, his
technological shortcomings and his
general goofiness.
But with all that
mocking apparently
comes a whole lotta
love. “That’s what
friends do. We make
fun of each other,”
says Sef, who lives
AWE PHOTO / HILTON FLORES
with his wife, Beth,
Joe Sef behind the bar at Afternoone’s.
and teenage daughters, Katie and Melissa, in Westerleigh. Sef gets back at the crew
during “Monday Night Football” season at Afternoone’s, 415
Forest Ave., West Brighton; 718-816-6744. The rule: Anyone who
misses kickoff has to drink one of Sef’s “flavorful” shots. Tequila
and Tabasco sauce are standards in his playbook.
Disco divas, pop-rockers and booty-shakers that defy categorization all find space on the
15-by-25-foot red oak dance floor at Illusions, 3995 Amboy Rd., Great Kills; 718-948-1015;
nitefaces.com. This 3-year-old lavender-hued lounge caters to a mature crowd — mostly
40-somethings and older on Friday nights with live entertainment — and lures a mixed
crowd on Saturday nights with DJs and bands. When the party peeps get tired, they sink
into velvet and leather couches and watch the disco ball on the ceiling. The owners pride
themselves on knowing customers’ names, while going for a Manhattan-caliber vibe. And
running a close second is the Old Bermuda Inn at 2512 Arthur Kill Rd., Rossville; 718-9487600. Every Saturday night, the Inn’s Henry VIII Pub & Restaurant — the 1830s mansion
at the heart of the complex — hosts Dine and Dance, an oasis of grown-up fun and
sophistication. Regulars indulge in “Dancing with the Stars” and Fred Astaire & Ginger
Rogers fantasies to a soundtrack spanning from Bee Gees disco to signature cha cha.
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BEST BEER SELECTION:
ADOBE BLUES
AWE PHOTO / BILL LYONS
Linda DeMartinis of Port Richmond sings along with Todt Hill's
Brian Smith of the Brian Smith Live Karaoke Band at Dugout.
BEST HAPPY HOUR: DUGOUT PUB & GRILL
This Port Richmond Center pub pitches patrons a standing
tailgate party. But one of the best times to get there is
Monday-Fridays from 4-7 p.m., when shrimps and wings are
25 cents each, and Mondays-Fridays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., when
the sports bar takes $1 off all drinks. DugOut —1614 Forest
Ave.; 718-273-4480; DugOutPub.com — keeps the energy up
with rotating acoustic acts daily. On Saturdays, happy hour
runs noon-6 p.m. when all drinks are two-for-one, and college football rules the tube.
Any way you want it,
that’s the way you get it
at Adobe Blues, 63
Lafayette Ave., New
Brighton; 718-720-2583.
This southwestern mainstay stocks 185 beers,
plus 30 tequilas. Among
the rarities: Schlenkerla,
a smoked sausage-flaAWE FILE PHOTO
vored “breakfast beer”
and Samichlaus, billed as one of the world’s
strongest beers. Its alcohol content is 14 percent, compared to the 5 percent in Budweiser.
On tap are $5 Weihenstephan and New Castle
Brown Ale, plus $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon. Plus,
“we have a fine selection of fancy glasses to
have your fancy beers in,” quips Jack
Dabdoub, general manager.
BEST WINE SELECTION: BASILIO INN
Maurizio Asperti’s Basilio Inn — 6
Galesville Ct., South Beach; 718-447-9292
— offers well-selected Italian wines to
complement this rustic, old-time Staten
Island restaurant’s menu.
Running a
very tight second, the extensive inventory
and educated
sommeliers
make Pete
Milano’s —
1441 Forest
Ave., Port
Richmond;
718-447-2888
— a great
place to shop.
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BEST THROWDOWN PARTY JOINT: DUGOUT PUB & GRILL
Leave it to the DugOut (DugOutPub.com; MySpace.com/dugoutpub) to
keep patrons bouncing off the walls. This sports bar’s activities are endless
— whether it’s beer pong, Wii game night, or drink wheel spins. The Port
Richmond Center spot is a popular hangout for Fun Leagues recreation
players and for neighborhood people looking for solid tavern eats. The bar
puts 16 beers on tap, including Guinness, Coors Light, three kinds of Spaten,
Blue Moon and three varieties of Sam Adams. Pints are $4-$5. Live bands
and DJs provide the soundtrack just about every night.
2008AWEREADER’SPOLL:
MISCELLANEOUSATTRACTIONS
BEST MARTINI:
SOUTH FIN GRILL
The specialty martini
menu at South Fin — 300
Father Capodanno Blvd.,
South Beach; 718-447-7679
— boasts everything from
the Lemon Basil variety
shown here to your basic
straight up model with a
twist. Plus, the boardwalk
restaurant’s swank decor
and boardwalk views
make the $11 price tag so
much easier to swallow
(and don’t forget the twofor-Tuesday deals!). Also
AWE PHOTO / ROB BAILEY scoring 1,000-plus votes:
Lorenzo’s Restaurant, Bar & Cabaret. Truly a lounger’s
lounge, the hotel bar — it’s in the Hilton Garden Inn at
1100 South Ave. in Bloomfield; 718-477-2400 — attracts a
broad cross-section of martini lovers with its big pours
and professional service.
BEST MARGARITA: MEZCAL’S
To fans of the Mexican restaurant
at 20 Bradley Ave., Meiers Corners:
Please accept AWE’s apologies. We
don’t mean to ruin your little
taqueria secret. But just because
the place is tiny, it doesn’t mean
other Staten Islanders should be
deprived of pucker-inducing lime
margs (or mojitos mashed with
AWE PHOTO / ROB BAILEY
fresh mint leaves, for that matter).
Be warned: Call a cab because it’s hard as hell to park here
(and you shouldn’t be driving after these babies, anyway).
BEST LOCAL TREASURE: RALPH’S ITALIAN ICES
This 80-year-old S.I. original’s legendary ices — all 75 varieties — have
intense, well-rounded flavors. At this
point, the ice parlor at 501 Port
Richmond Ave., Port Richmond; 718273-3675; is closed for the season, but
the flavor memories linger forever.
Check RalphsIces.com for details.
BEST ANNUAL EVENT:
TRAVIS FOURTH OF JULY PARADE
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BEST SANGRIA:
BAYOU
It’s rustic, fruity
and full of flavor, a surprise
hit cocktail for
the CreoleCajun spot at
1072 Bay St.,
Rosebank; 718273-4383. In a
close second:
The homemade
wine spiked
with Grand
Marnier at
Espana, 833
Annadale Rd.,
Annadale; 718966-4040.
BEST PATIO BAR: DUGOUT PUB & GRILL
Come warm weather, this outdoor patio at 1614 Forest Ave., Port Richmond
Center; 718-273-4480; is a big hit with fans. On Sundays, during softball season,
players from the bar’s sister organization, S.I. Fun Leagues, pile onto the patio
for $1 hot dogs, burgers and knishes after their games. They wash it down with
Beer Pong Towers — that’s 120 oz. of suds — buckets of Coronitas and shots.
But you don’t need to be a softball slugger. All are welcome to dip their toes
in the patio’s kiddie pool or lounge in beach chairs. Tiki torches light the way
after dark.
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With Uncle Sam on stilts, clowns, jugglers
and Lady Liberty, this annual Indie Day bash
hits all its marks. Spectators line the streets of
Travis in front of houses decked in red, white
and blue bunting, banners and pinwheels for
the town’s home-decorating contest. Plus, it’s
a homecoming for people who’ve moved
away from the borough. The parade — said to
be the oldest in the country — returns for its
99th incarnation next summer.
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BEST SPECIAL EVENT: ROCK THE HARBOR MUSIC FESTIVAL
Well, what can we say? It was thrown together last minute. It was controversial for bands who didn’t get picked to play (Tryptophan, we’re sorry,
next time BBQ with us). Honestly, we were worried the thing wouldn’t
even get off the ground, but then the day of reckoning came, and man
was it great. The pictures say it all: People dancing and sending a beach
ball through the air, while the sun set behind stormy clouds, and the guys
at ProSho sure delivered professional sound, and the bands, DJs and fans
all showed up and rocked the house. Neptune’s Group and Snug Harbor
were excellent hosts and sponsors. We even had us some original art on
stage. We’re already talking about the next one — we hope you are, too.
BEST THEME NIGHT:
KILLMEYER’S HOG ROAST
Quirky, tasty and fun are
what define the pig roasts
at Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria
Inn; 718-984-1202; killmeyers.com. The inn was
established by brickmaker
Balthazar Killmeyer in
1959, making Killmeyer’s
the Island’s oldest continuously run restaurant in the
borough. In the summer
and fall, succulent whole
roasted pigs are slow
cooked on a spigot in the
biergarten. Thoughtfully
selected German brews
wash down the oinker.
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BEST GREEN SPACE: SNUG HARBOR
CULTURAL CENTER & BOTANICAL GARDEN
This 83-acre complex (1000 Richmond Terr.,
Livingston; 718-815-SNUG; snug-harbor.org)
has enough green to go around. But it’s not
AWE FILE PHOTO
just a park. The grounds are home to a valuable collection of 19th-century landmarked buildings. Within them
are a nautical museum, an art gallery, an art school and theater.
Botanical gardens and a children’s museum complete the picture.