If you don’t live in New York you might be forgiven for thinking that the four boroughs other than Manhattan are places you go to use airports, ball parks or find out where the Staten Island ferry goes. The same is true for most people who actually live in Manhattan.
Excursions to the other boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island can be rewarding and it comes as a surprise to some that, for example, you can take the subway to the beach from midtown in about 45 minutes.
A trip to Brighton Beach (Little Odessa) is like a day out to a Black Sea resort. A series of four restaurants including Tatiana and Volga line the boardwalk serving smoked fish, vodka, brandy and borscht and Brighton Beach Avenue itself is a strip of stores, bars, clubs and most fascinatingly food stores in which non-Russian speakers are the odd men out.
The International Food Store at 249 Brighton Beach Avenue and 2nd Street is the outstanding example and an incredible source for deli, fish, pastry and pickles and a clientele and staff population out of central casting. The signage is mostly in cyrillic but the stuff will indulge you and explain most things that you can take home to serve with a side dish of Lipitor.
It’s enough to make you remember just to what extent New York is a city of immigrants and adds real texture to a visit to Ellis Island by making it clear that immigration is a living phenomena that continues long after the isalnd closed to its real business.