2009-03-04 / Restaurant of the Week

The Zone...Sports, Restaurant and Lounge

The Zone...Sports, Restaurant and Lounge

The Zone on Steinway Street is your go-to place for delicious food, fabulous cocktails, dancing and, of course, sports. The Zone's five owners, Ken, Anthony, Tim, Joe and Warren are all sports enthusiasts and recently had the honor of hosting Darryl Strawberry for autographs and fun. They welcome all of you to their fine establishment for lunch, dinner, dancing, sports, karaoke and more.

The atmosphere is friendly and comfortable at The Zone, with tables and chairs for comfortable dining and a long, sleek bar with flat screen televisions for optimum viewing, without overwhelming your conversation or dining pleasure. A cozy lounge area allows for intimate conversation and bottle service at low slung lounge tables. Music fills the air and includes genres such as disco, rock and Latin beats which make for sultry dancing late in the evening, when the dance floor heats up.

The lovely bartender, Diana, mixes up The Zone's signature cocktails, many of which are named for famous athletes such as the Tiger Woods martini, shaken

with gin, lime, cranberry juice and ice. The Jose Reyes mojito is cool and refreshing with rum, muddled lime and mint, served in a tall glass with ice. You'll also love The Zone's classic Cosmo and the frozen drinks are spectacular. Plenty of beers are on tap, along with a selection of wines and cordials.

Chef Nick works his magic in the kitchen and has created a new menu to include bar favorites, American fare and a nice mix of both Italian and Latino dishes to please everyone. All dishes are prepared to order and served steaming hot, whether you choose to eat at the bar, at a table or in the lounge area. Best of all, the kitchen stays open late to fuel a night of dancing.

Appetizers include outrageously big shrimp cocktail, ocean fresh and served on the edge of a martini glass with zesty cocktail sauce ($11.99). The house made calamari are prepared with a blend of perfectly seasoned bread crumbs and are fried till golden and crispy outside, and so tender inside. The accompanying marinara sauce is as good as grandma's. Buffalo wings are available with your choice of sauces, including mild, hot,

atomic or barbecue sauce and a tasty sauce made with bourbon. Visit Wednesday nights when there's free karaoke and 25-cent wings for all. Some Latin favorites remain such as queso frito, a fried, mild cheese that's oh so good, and crunchy tostones, which are fried plantains served with salsa. Mofongo is a Dominican specialty made from mashed plantains and mild spices with bits of chicken, pork or shrimp mixed in.

Entrées at The Zone are comparable to those found in pricey restaurants. Grilled rib-eye steak is juicy and tender and cooked to order. My companion and I enjoyed the grilled, marinated skirt steak, served sliced and arranged around a ramekin of chimmichurri sauce for dipping. The chef does a nice job with fork-tender chicken Marsala, loaded with woodsy mushrooms and shrimp scampi that is light and tasty. The signature burger requires two hands and several napkins, owing to its heft and juiciness and is a big winner at lunchtime, dinnertime and beyond. You may also opt for a leaner turkey burger, or a mean grilled chicken sandwich. Salads are generously portioned and can be topped with grilled chicken for a small upcharge. Dinner entrées come with a choice of side dishes that include mashed potatoes, French fries or broccoli.

The Zone features several special nights worth mentioning. First off, during "March Madness", enjoy 25- cent wings as you watch all the college games with your favorite beer or cocktail. Each Wednesday features karaoke with 25-cent wings while you sing the night away. International soccer matches are broadcast via satellite so you can cheer for your favorite team. Every Friday, take advantage of a free hot buffet while you enjoy Happy Hour from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Buffet items include penne alla vodka, rice and beans and more. Thursday nights are called "Recession Thursdays" where just $20 will get you an Open Bar from 10:30pm to 1:30am, excluding shots. The music and merriment are always free and everyone will have a good time because the dance floor and the kitchen are open late, the food is delicious and reasonably priced and the drinks are great.

Visit The Zone soon to start March Madness off right. Private parties can be arranged and all are welcome. Get in the zone at The Zone on Steinway Street, near 30th Avenue.

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