We travel today to Oyster Bay. Our journey is two-fold as we are in search of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum as well as our lunch destination, Bonanza’s. We hop off the train and head to the museum. The museum is small but houses a depot a short distance away with a multitude of old cars and cabooses that allow the boys to expend their energy on this hot, hot day. They work up an appetite running from seat to seat in the old passenger car and we cut through Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and seek out the famous and historic stand that Bonanza’s is known for.
The business has been in existence for over 100 years. It was started by Italian immigrant, John “Chick” Bonanza, who came to American for a better life with a lemon ice recipe in tow. The original business started out as a pushcart in Canarsie, Brooklyn and was later sold out of their home in Oyster Bay before landing in its current location on the corner of Shore and Maxwell Avenues. I love a place that starts out with a dollar and a dream.
The boys are flushed and melting from our excursion and are, for lack of a better word, cranky from the heat. I entice them with the idea that we are going to a “little place” for lunch. We spot it from down the block and before we get there, they are excited for a place that is pint size, like themselves. The novelty here is the quaint and quirky stand where patrons can order from the window to either continue on their journey, or take it to the rear of the stand to sit at one of the handful of communal picnic tables have been placed here.
The menu is comprised of many no-fuss items such as hot dogs, French fries, hot pretzels and chili; everything that one wants from a place such as this. I opt for the “Sloppy Bo”, which is simply chili on a bun. John gets a hot dog and Daniel gets French fries. No healthy sides here, but the beauty of it is this; it’s summer, it’s a special treat and isn’t that just what these sort of summer places are for?
The magic here is found in the ices, as we discover as we move on to dessert. The boys revel in the fact that they are able to “read” the menu, and choose the picture of their choice. Daniel chooses strawberry and John chooses rainbow. I go for the classic lemon and soon find that it is for good reason that this is with what this century old establishment began. The lemon ice has the perfect distinction of being not too sweet and not too sour and still contains the lemon pits. This should be pointed out as it demonstrates their commitment to their high quality products. John gives up on his ice to watch the cars pass by and Daniel capitalizes on the moment. He double-fists the two and eats them both to their last drop.
We leave here fully refreshed and happy from our long visit. Oyster Bay has proven itself to be a special place to us, rich in history and now complete with a great place to visit for a delicious and quick bite to eat.