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Arancini Bros

Arancini Bros. Rice Balls now available during Brooklyn Cyclones games at MCU Park. Photo via Arancini Bros.

Italian street food is popping up this summer in Coney Island’s amusement area. Bushwick’s Arancini Bros– whose motto is “We’ve got balls!”– is serving their Sicilian rice balls during Brooklyn Cyclones’ games at MCU Park. On the Bowery at Stillwell, Luzzo’s, which has an old-school pizzeria with a coal-burning oven in the East Village, is making wood-fired pizza from a mobile cart with a tiny oven.

We first tried Arancini Bros basil pesto ball at San Gennaro and went back for seconds, thinking all the while: this would be perfect for Coney Island. The business is owned by David Campaniello and his cousin Giulia Della Gatta, who says of the new Coney Island venture, “Arancini Bros. is honored to bring the best of Brooklyn, for the best of Brooklyn!”

Six varieties are offered at MCU Park, priced at three for $6 or six for $10. There’s Classic Ragu (saffron risotto with tomato meat sauce peace and mozzarella); Bianco Verde (Basil Pesto w Mozzarella); Buffalo Ball (Spicy Chicken with Gorgonzola Cheese); Philly Cheese-Steak (grilled rib-eye, caramelized onions, provolone cheese); Bucatini Fritti (Italian-style mac & cheese) and Nutella (Cinnamon risotto with chocolate hazelnut, rolled in cinnamon sugar).

We only wish they sold the rice balls outside the ball park too!

Luzzo's Pizza

Luzzo’s Pizza Cart on the Bowery at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. July 4, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Luzzo Group headed by Neapolitan pizzaiolo Michele Iuliano operate a quintet of restaurants as well as pizza carts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Their cart in Coney Island debuted over the July 4th weekend and is set to stay the summer, according to its manager Anisa. Luzzo’s is located on Thor Equities property on the Bowery, across from the Brooklyn Nets Shop and the yet-to-open Wahlburgers, and has a roped-off seating area. The personal-size pizza comes in two varieties: the Margherita, with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella ($6.00), and the Diavola with spicy salami ($8.00). Also on the menu for $2 each are Rice Balls (rice, meat, fresh Mozzarella) and Potato Croquettes.

While new is news and street food is convenient, if you’re looking for an Italian sit-down restaurant in Coney Island, you should keep in mind two of the City’s and the neighborhood’s oldest and most revered: Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana on Neptune Avenue since 1924 and Gargiulo’s on West 15th Street since 1907. As ATZ previously reported, the Russo Brothers, owners of Gargiulo’s, which is Coney Island’s bastion of fine dining, are planning to open a fast food Italian restaurant on the north side of Surf.

Luzzo's Pizza

Seating area at Luzzo’s Pizza Cart on the Bowery at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. July 4, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Photo © Tricia Vita

Stillwell Avenue and Bowery, Coney Island. April 16, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

It turns out that Dan Biederman’s consulting firm Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was hired by Thor Equities to manage and create programming for two lots in Coney Island. So what’s planned for Thor’s second long-vacant lot, on the Bowery across the street from where Coney Art Walls and Smorgasburg are set to debut? “Our programming is still in flux, though we hope to announce some exciting things next week,” Ben Donsky, BRV’s senior project manager, told ATZ. “There will probably be performances on both lots.”

Since Thor bought the property in 2006 and emptied out the bumper boats, go karts and batting cages, the lot has seen sporadic use, most infamously in 2009 as the failed Flea by the Sea. Its tattered tents can be seen in the photo above.

As for game trailers coming to the lot and kiosks being offered for rent this season, as the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been saying for months: “There are no actual ‘kiosks’ in our plans on the east side of Stillwell, at least right now,” Donsky says. “But Gordon Lee of the Eldorado is going to be putting up midway games along the Bowery.”

Balloon Dart on the Bowery, Coney Island

Balloon Dart, on the Bowery in Coney Island, May 26, 2008. This game did not reopen in 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Can the Bowery get its groove back? Or will it get a complete redo? Coney’s Bowery from West 12th Street to Stillwell is a ghost town compared to the crowds it used to attract, particularly since McCullough’s Kiddie Park got pushed out in 2012. As a measure of how much has changed, the spot where the old-school Balloon Dart was located in the demolished Henderson Building is now occupied by the Brooklyn Nets Shop in Thor’s retail building, where Wahlburger’s is opening a rooftop dining area that will overlook the festivities unfolding on the lots this summer.

Wahlburgers

Slated to open this summer, Wahlburgers will have a rooftop overlooking Thor’s Stillwell lots. April 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

May 6, 2015: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to Draw Portraits of Coney Island Residents for Coney Art Walls

April 30, 2015: Thor Equities Recruits Jeffrey Deitch, Dan Biederman & Smorgasburg to Dress Up Vacant Coney Lot

April 27, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Update on Wahlburgers, Temporary Fair at Thor’s Vacant Lots

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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Pretty the Coney Island Cat

Pretty the Coney Island Cat © Stanley Fox. December 3, 2014

Pretty the Cat is frequently mistaken for a stray by tourists but this Coney Island cat has long made her home on the Bowery where she is fed year-round by concessionaires. This morning, Coney raconteur and retired arcade owner Stanley Fox photographed Pretty when she jumped on the hood of his car, which he’d parked on the Bowery. Just after he snapped this photo, Pretty ran off to eat breakfast. Ray, who runs the basketball game on the Bowery, had come to feed her, as he does every day. “He stands guard while she eats,” Stan told ATZ, as Ray chased away a big seagull trying to snatch the can of food.

The feline queen of the Bowery is at least 10 or 11 years old by our estimation and is spayed. As we reported last year, after Manny of Coney Island Arcade and Target the Cat left the Bowery for Las Vegas, Pretty came into her own. This feral cat whom only a handful of people could pet in the past became the mascot of the independent game operators. In the summer, you’ll find her grooming herself in the middle of the Bowery unperturbed by passersby and taking a nap in Jimmy Balloons game under the Wonder Wheel sign.

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February 12, 2013: Coney Island Cat & Arcade Business Moving to Las Vegas

January 14, 2013: Landlord Evicting Famous Coney Island Cat and His Humans

February 21, 2011: Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat & His Friend Pretty

January 26, 2011: Photo of the Day: Henderson Music Hall Cats Now Homeless

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Margarita Island

Site of Margarita Island, set to open on Coney Island’s Bowery at West 12th Street, on Memorial Day Weekend. May 10, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Remember Coney Island’s Beer Island, the popular outdoor bar where you could get sand in your shoes? The bar was one of the Boardwalk businesses evicted from City-owned property and closed down in 2011. On Memorial Day weekend, co-owner Carl Muraco is getting set to open its successor, Margarita Island, on the Bowery at West 12th Street. (Update: The ‘soft opening’ will be on Saturday, May 17th.)

The outdoor bar’s liquor license was issued a few days ago and a food truck specializing in Japanese teriyaki is already parked on site. New picnic tables are set up on the corner lot, which had been vacant since Coney Island Arcade burned down four years ago. The property is owned by Jeff Persily, who is also leasing the space next-door to Muraco for an arcade, formerly located in one of Thor’s buildings, and a bar.

The food truck Yume Teriyaki Grill offers a reasonably priced menu of teriyaki chicken, steak or fish served over white or brown rice, salads, and appetizers like gyoza and edamame. It’s one of the few food trucks in Coney Island since mobile food vending is restricted on the streets in and around the amusement area.

Yume Teriyaki Grill

Yume Teriyaki Grill Food Truck at site of Margarita Island Outdoor Bar, Coney Island. May 10, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The key to Beer Island’s success was serving a wide variety of beer in bottles and on tap–all for $5—on a sandy beach just a few steps from Coney’s shore. Blaring music, bikini-clad waitresses, and the fact that you could bring in food from any of the Boardwalk restaurants added to the party ambiance. Plus as one Yelper wrote: “I have seen some strange shit at Beer Island. One time some guy rolled up with a bunch of exotic animals: iguanas, parrots, pythons–all at the same time. He sat down at a table, scattered his animal kingdom cohorts about, ordered a beer and proceeded to let old ladies feed his massive iguana (what looked like) strawberries.”

This corner is already pretty strange. The freak show is across the street and so is the Saturn 6 ride. And the mysterious, homegrown 5D Cinema, which opened last summer, is back.

5D Cinema

5D Cinema, Coney Island. May 10, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Pretty the Coney Island Cat

Pretty the Coney Island Cat on the Bowery. May 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

We’re happy to report that Pretty the Cat is doing fine since Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat moved to Las Vegas. Manny left plenty of food and she is being fed by Jimmy Balloons and his friends. This feral cat whom only a handful of people could pet over the past three years is coming into her own and warming up to her humans. She’s more approachable, too. The other day, we were astonished to see her grooming herself in the middle of the Bowery unperturbed by passersby and rubbing against one of her caretaker’s legs. “She’s a little lonely,” he said. “Target was very territorial and used to beat her up.” Now Pretty is the feline queen of that part of the Bowery though we don’t expect to see her calling people in to play the Balloon Dart like Target did anytime soon.

Pretty the Coney Island Cat

Pretty the Coney Island Cat on the Bowery. May 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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February 12, 2013: Coney Island Cat & Arcade Business Moving to Las Vegas

January 14, 2013: Landlord Evicting Famous Coney Island Cat and His Humans

February 21, 2011: Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat & His Friend Pretty

January 26, 2011: Photo of the Day: Henderson Music Hall Cats Now Homeless

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Target the Coney Island Cat

Target the Cat & Jimmy Balloons Calling in Customers. April 5, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When we started working in Coney Island, Target the Cat was already sitting on the counter of Jimmy’s Balloon Dart on the Bowery calling the people in to play. Some girls can’t walk by without stopping to pet him and ask his name. Next thing you know they’re busting balloons and winning prizes. The gregarious cat is world-famous thanks to having posed for many photographs including one that appeared in the New York Times.

Now the six-year-old cat, who has born and raised in Coney Island’s amusement area, is about to be evicted along with his humans, who own and operate games at 1105 Bowery. Eviction notices were served on four concessionaires who run games and a food stand at 1105 Bowery. All are set to be in court on Tuesday, though it’s doubtful the cat will show up.

Target

Target the Coney Island Cat at work. May 14, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Rumors of the evictions have been the talk of the Coney Island Rumor Mill for weeks. Whatever story you hear or read, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

The building is owned by Shore Leave LLC and Rabbit Beach LLC and Cyclone Holdings LLC and 3019 W 12TH St LLC. Property owner Jeff Persily did not reply to ATZ’s request for comment on the evictions.

Will the judge decide the tenants can stay for another season? The east side of the Bowery just won’t be the same without Target the Cat patrolling the area. This part of the Bowery is his territory. Just to be clear, although Target and his kitty companion Pretty are losing the only home they’ve ever known, they’re not up for adoption. The cats are the beloved pets of Manny Cohen, the owner of Coney Island Arcade, who has been a tenant here for 22 years.

Target the Coney Island Cat

On the Bowery with Target the Coney Island Cat, March 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Target and his late sister Targeretty were born at Spook-A-Rama in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. When a worker heard mewing and went to investigate, he found the motherless kittens. They were kept warm with a portable heater and fed with a dropper. Two weeks later, Manny Cohen adopted them and raised them at the arcade.

In May of 2010, a terrible fire destroyed the arcade on a day that workers sent by the landlord tarred the roof. Target escaped when the firemen battling the blaze cut the gates but his shy sister Targeretty died in the fire. The firemen found her in the office where she felt safe and had probably died from smoke inhalation. For weeks, Target kept searching for her in the ruins of the building and crying.

The arcade was never rebuilt and the site remains an empty lot at the corner of West 12th Street and the Bowery. The building at 1105 Bowery is adjacent to the lot and extends to Jones Walk.

Target

Target the Coney Island Cat. February 11, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related Posts on ATZ…

February 21, 2011: Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat & His Friend Pretty

January 26, 2011: Photo of the Day: Henderson Music Hall Cats Now Homeless

May 6, 2010: R.I.P. Targette, the Coney Island Arcade Cat’s Shy Sister

May 6, 2010: Suspicious Fire at Coney Island Arcade Building

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Coney Island Bowery

One of several photos taken yesterday in Coney Island. There’s a glitch with captions on our blog’s photo uploader so this is a test post.

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November 25, 2012: Photos of the Day: Coney Island Street Dunes by Jay Singer

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October 30, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

January 27, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Snowmen at Dawn

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