Rock Center Cafe
In summertime, when the ice skaters are gone and the zamboni is in the garage, the Rock Center Café opens its glass walls alongside the ice rink to create the Summer Bar and Café outdoors. Chef Antonio Prontelli, the son of Italian immigrants in the Bronx, has been cooking here for 20 years, and his unbounded enthusiasm shows in the quality of the dishes, such as his signature Hot Jumbo Lump Crab and Artichoke Dip. This is addictive comfort food that you scoop up with house-made kettle chips while enjoying a summer cocktail or glass of chilled Chardonnay. Rather than coating calamari with bread crumbs, Pontelli prepares it with a light batter of corn flour, leaving it crisp, tender, and delicate to dress with saffron mayonnaise.
The Fish and Chips entrée is deservedly a favorite. Fluke from Montauk is prepared in a batter made with the dark and spicy Brooklyn Six Point Sweet Action beer. The grilled skirt steak is tender and juicy with crispy herbed potatoes, spring onions, and chimichurri sauce of minced parsley, garlic and olive oil. Atlantic Salmon with summer vegetables and a roasted spring onion vinaigrette is another winner. Penne Capresse is a tasty summer pasta salad with tomato, mozzarella and basil. Pastry chef Michael Gabriel has a yummy dessert for peanut butter lovers: Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Tart with caramelized banana. Breakfast weekdays 7:30 to 10:30am; lunch weekdays 11:30am to 4pm; dinner Monday to Saturday 4pm to 10pm, Sunday to 9pm; weekend brunch 10:30am to 4pm. -- Marian Betancourt