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Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar Opens at Playland

Bree Shirvell reviews the Tiki-themed eatery overlooking Long Island Sound, which offers casual food and live music.

There's a new restaurant on the boardwalk at Playland, and this one will have restaurant goers never wanting to leave the beach.

Doors opened May 1 at Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar, a new venture for business partners John Ambrose and Sam Chernin, who also own Rye's Seaside Johnnies.

The Tiki-Polynesian inspired restaurant features spectacular views of Long Island Sound in a casual setting, at the former site of Captain Hooks.

On a recent evening I tried out the new place and was offered an outside seat near the water. It ended up being bit chilly, but the views alone made it obvious the restaurant will become a favorite for outside dining.

The menu has a summery feel to it, with cocktails ranging in price from $8 for a glass of sangria or $28 for a pitcher and $11 for one of the signature drinks. The diverse drink selection could make the Tiki Bar a great after work happy hour destination. 

We tried out the frozen margarita ($10) and the signature Reef Juice ($11). The large margarita was refreshing and the Reef Juice with Myer's Dark Rum, crème de banana, lime juice, grenadine, and pineapple was smooth and fruity.

We skipped the appetizers, choosing to munch instead on the complimentary bread and olives. However, the large appetizer menu is almost as diverse as the restaurant's drink menu, with tropical-inspired dishes like tiki chicken wings and coconut shrimp and classics like regular calamari and buffalo calamari. Appetizers ranged from $9 to $20.

Sampling the New England style fish and chips ($21) and the grilled chicken sandwich ($13), it was nice to find the seafood-themed menu has lots of choices for those who don't like fish. The restaurant pays attention to details, which we noticed when our food arrived. Both dishes came in wire baskets that looked like they were shaped in the form of a boat. The serving sizes were huge although the fish and chicken were a little bland.

For dessert, we were persuaded by our waitress' description to sample the chocolate dynamite ($7). The dessert, a three-layer chocolate cake consisting of a slightly hardened chocolate sauce, chocolate mousse, and a chocolate sponge cake served on a white platter drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce, was delicious although so rich we were glad we decided to split it.

The casual beach fare compliments the Tiki feel of the restaurant. A large center bar with a thatched roof, tables with tiki umbrellas, and Polynesian décor throughout the restaurant set the mood. The outside dining area is huge and the restaurant also offers a glass enclosed inside section. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with live music on Fridays and Saturdays, the place was packed with a line of about 20 people waiting by the time we left. The atmosphere and menu will appeal to a wide range of demographics, which we saw as families with young kids, teenagers, the after work set, and couples were all part of the dining crowd.

The service was good although it's clear they are still working out some of the kinks. When we first walked in we waited near the hostess stand, confused whether to seat ourselves, because no one came to greet us right away,even though there was a large amount of staff standing around. However, once seated, everything went smoothly. Our waitress, who admitted it was her first night, was patient as we mulled over the menu, quick to get anything we requested, knowledgeable about the food, and stopped by to check on us throughout the meal.

The atmosphere, views, music, and outdoor causal dining make Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar the perfect summer destination for those who want to spend a warm evening sipping drinks or enjoying a meal with great views of the Long Island Sound.

Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar 1 Playland Parkway Rye, NY 10580, (914) 967-1020, pierresturantandtikibar.com. About 200 spaces at Playland are reserved for restaurant parking, and with validation cost $2. The restaurant does not accept reservations after Memorial Day.

J Fiedler June 04, 2010 at 06:22 PM
This isn't a restaurant review. The only thing you've said about the main dishes is that they sometimes are served in wire baskets. Many Rye residents are curious: Would the Pier finally be a place to find good food by the beach, or just another iteration of Seaside Johnnie's (possibly the worst and most overpriced seafood in Westchester)? And how is it possible that the owner of Seaside Johnnie's beats 25 other applications to run a restaurant at the end of the pier, when his original restaurant is such a joke? This is Westchester, in the long shadow of some of the best food in the world. We know good food, and -- more significant for The Pier and Seaside Johnnie's -- we know bad, overpriced food. So give it to us straight up, Patch. We can take it. Was the food any good? (and "delicious" doesn't count in reviews).
lanfear13 June 19, 2010 at 12:19 AM
Once again it is a joke.... The food is overpriced and awful... Similar to other waterfront restaurants you are paying for the View and the View is what one should Only pay for. Have a big meal before you go!!!
leck June 27, 2010 at 07:06 PM
I've no idea what the food is like, but the appearance of the place is tacky and tasteless. I cringe when I walk by. A restaurant built by a pier, yet you have to entertain the patrons with multiple flat-screen TVs mounted all around the bar area! As if that wasn't enough there is a giant screen hung on the side of Playland Casino. To further assault the senses there is the loud music competing with the music already pumping out of Playland's speakers. The crown topper is the brash plastic sign which pulsates on the roof of the building which makes it seem like you must be approaching a strip club. What I don't understand is how the planners or the county (or whoever was in charge) allowed the seating to be extended into the area of the boardwalk and out along the covered part of the pier? I'm guessing that elsewhere in Playland there are rules about smoking and drinking, but when the restaurant is busy, you will find people smoking and drinking on the pier. This place ruins the pier and that end of the boardwalk for those of use who use it for a relaxing walk.
Suz Joy August 05, 2010 at 04:40 PM
What I mess. For 10 people food came out one at a time. Not even the two kids 4 & 5 got there food until last! Things were not hot no manager around to over see things. If you really want to have seafood you are better off taking a ride to city island. You cant still get there and eat and be home before you get your food at this place. I sure hope when they have a restaurant assoc meeting at this place they get there act together. What a real shame for such a nice setting to have things turn out as bad as they do.
Suz Joy August 05, 2010 at 04:44 PM
What I mess. For 10 people food came out one at a time. Not even the two kids 4 & 5 got there food until last! Things were not hot no manager around to over see things. If you really want to have seafood you are better off taking a ride to city island. You can still get there and eat and be home before you get your food at this place. I sure hope when they have a restaurant assoc meeting at this place they get there act together. What a real shame for such a nice setting to have things turn out as bad as they do.
marissa August 07, 2010 at 03:18 AM
Get over it.
marissa August 07, 2010 at 03:20 AM
AWESOME place!! We loved it! The food was wonderful, staff was friendly, beautiful view. We had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated but so worth it! It is a fun atmosphere, nice to bring children there and even older people. Fits both crowds. Definately recommend it, hottest place in westchester/CT right now says ratings.

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