Sept. 20, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
An elegantly styled new bar/restaurant has opened on the Long Island City waterfront offering craft cocktails and an elevated twist on American classic comfort foods.
The new establishment, called The Waterfront Club, opened Sept. 8 and is located on the ground floor of 4720 Center Blvd., a 32-story apartment building that faces Gantry Plaza State Park in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. The Waterfront Club has replaced BLVD Wine Bar, a wine and cocktail bar that shuttered at the end of last year.
The space has undergone a complete overhaul with vintage furniture, wooden walls and chandeliers installed to create a warm ambiance with an upmarket, sophisticated look, according to its owner Nina Megna.
Megna, a 25-year-old New Jersey resident who grew up in Staten Island, said The Waterfront Club is her first business venture and that she and her team worked hard in its creation.
“We definitely put a lot of effort into reworking the whole place,” Megna said. “We did a major cosmetic renovation and really focused on a design that would give customers a great authentic experience. It took us a year to get the wood right!”
The Waterfront Club also has several antique lamps, vintage photos and low lighting with soft jazz music regularly playing in the background.
Megna said the front of the establishment serves as a lounge area with where customers can sit for cocktails and quick bites while the rear of the premises is where the dining area is located. Megna said the previous operators used a section of the back area for storage but that space has now been incorporated into the dining area. The Waterfront Club seats around 65 people, including 15 at the bar, she said.
“This concept was intended to create a very intimate atmosphere where people can get a sense of comfortability,” Megna said. “This spot is very unique and we felt that Long Island City residents would appreciate a place like this.”
She said the venue hosts live entertainment every Thursday, which varies from live jazz music to comedians.
The Waterfront Club had its grand opening on Sept. 8 and Megna said there was a big turnout.
“The grand opening was awesome,” Megna said. “We had to close the books at one point because we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to handle all the covers that were coming in, but everything went great. It’s so exciting,” Megna said.
Megna said the establishment’s espresso martini has been a big hit with customers. It is made with vanilla bean syrup — which is made in-house — dark chocolate infused vodka, espresso and almond-flavored liqueur, with shredded chocolate on top.
“It has a really nice flavor to it, but it’s not overbearing, so it’s a really cool drink,” Megna said. “We have some amazing professional mixologists working here, so it really does make a difference in my opinion.”
She said the lavender butterfly cocktail is also proving popular and it is made with gin, muddled blueberries, lavender pea flowers, and lemon juice.
In terms of food, Megna said her personal favorite is the short rib tortellini, which is made with hazelnut, fine herbs and a brown butter foam, while the lobster crispy rice — consisting of Japanese rice, pickled kelp and black truffle — has just hit the menu.
The menu also contains a wagyu burger, salmon, jumbo prawns and oysters.
Megna said she wanted to open her first new bar/restaurant in Long Island City because it is an attractive destination and she regularly frequents the neighborhood.
She said that opening her first business is a bit daunting, but she is embracing the challenge.
Megna said she turned down the chance to go to law school after graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and instead decided to get into the hospitality business full-time. She first started working in the industry while attending college.
“About a month before law school I decided that I wasn’t passionate about it and that I was kind of doing it for my family,” Megna said.
“Hospitality was always so big and important to me, but I never thought of it as a feasible thing until I really started focusing and trying to make a business out of it. And you know, I’m finally starting to get there and so it’s really exciting for me to be going after my dreams.”
Hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Waterfront Club is closed on Mondays.