Dig In At Baby Ray’s
13-46 127th St., College Point
Cuisine:Steak and Seafood
Hours: Noon to 10 pm Tue-Thu; noon to 11 pm, Fri & Sat
Credit Cards: All Major
Parking: Valet on weekends
In a short amount of time, Baby Ray’s has begun to make a mark on College Point. In an effort to fill a niche in a neighborhood saturated by delicatessens and pizzerias, Baby Ray’s is definitely the beginning of a rebirth in College Point’s culinary scene.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, Baby Ray’s already boasts the need for early reservations. This fact alone, in my book, gives rival area restaurants a run for their money, in a race to become this year’s local top spot for a fine fix of surf and turf.
Straight out the box, the German-style décor of the family-friendly restaurant transports you directly to Europe. Instead of schnitzel and sausage though, Baby Ray’s (named after owner Adam Copp’s 3-year-old son) gives guests a wealth of options for those looking to either wet their whistle or sufficiently stuff their stomachs.
On entry, remnants of what were once a part of the New York City’s German-beer-hall capital, located in College Point in the 1940s, can be seen all around. From the bar’s artisanal handmade stained glass lights illuminating the private booths, to the hand-painted flowers adorning the rafters, to the large stone open-face fireplace warming the entire dining room, the restaurant is seeping with Teutonic tradition.
Nestled into a space all by myself, cuddled up against the 63-year-old fireplace, I began to make my choices, setting off an evening which, by the looks of the menu, would not let me down.
At first, the carte du jour’s regionally-caught fresh fish and seafood as well as its in-house aged steaks distracted me from the titillating appetizers at the top. With some subtle suggestions from the restaurant’s smooth-talkin’ manager, Nat, I was able to settle on a long list of items to calm the beast roaring in my belly.
I didn’t know where to begin. With half of the table lined with four of the house’s special starters, the succulent selections invited me for a feast which would last nearly two hours.
The Thai Calamari came with a kick. The circular sweet and tangy sautéed rings were walloped with the perfect portion of oyster-teriyaki sauce, and to my amazement there was no dipping necessary. Crumbling with a light crunch, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake was stuffed with oversized cubes of crab meat, leaving bits of creamy crustacean flavor crawling across my taste buds as I lost myself gazing into the open fire.
Next the Cold Seafood Salad, a Copp family special, laid out a colorful pattern of scungilli, calamari, scallops and octopus, with mixed peppers and red onions lightly tossed in salt and vinegar, served on a cupped leaf of Boston lettuce. Its carefully calculated presentation made me not want to disturb it, but I couldn’t resist and dove down under.
Accompanying the salad from the sea was the Clams Casino: clams on the half shell are mixed with peppers and onions as well as bits of bacon. Lightly baked before being served, the dish is warmed straight through the center.
With my belt beginning to stretch, I continued to go big, and ordered entrees in order to get a taste of Baby Ray’s Culinary Institute of America’s skilled chef, who utilizes both his knowledge of the grill and a longstanding solid wooden walk-in box to age his beef on the premises.
Aged no less than 21 days, the slowly roasted Prime Rib roared with flavor on my plate after being cooked in its own juices. As if that weren’t enough, a half rack of Baby Back Ribs, glazed with the house’s special BBQ sauce, screamed succulence sitting next to me.
Served with sides of Creamed Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, my guest stared me down, thinking I wouldn’t be able to handle the task. With a meal for a large man (or a small family) I indulged myself, getting down and dirty for an event that may have required a change of wardrobe, in a good way.
Baby Ray’s has definitely brought the neighborhood a game changer, which makes all the difference in an area suffocating for something fun and fresh. When you head over, be sure to try a bit of everything, because this new family-owned institution promises not to disappoint.
– Jason Banrey