One of the more memorable restaurants in NYC my wife Jun and I have been to was an unassuming place called Hart’s in a quiet Brooklyn neighborhood. We were very impressed by the simple yet thoughtful and satisfying Mediterranean-centric dishes at Hart’s; there was nothing we had not seen before, but I would happily go back just for the insane ricotta and clam toast there! When I heard the same team opened up a new venture in Lower East Side, this time focusing on seafood with Spanish and Portuguese influences, I knew we had to try this place. While spending the last evening of Thanksgiving weekend, we had another pleasant dinner.
The menu at Cervo’s doesn’t look that much different on its face compared to Hart’s. The one difference was a small plate of cold sourdough bread which, to Jun’s dismay, was being charged at $3 and which the server recommended that we add this to dip on the white wine sauce underneath the manila clams with garlic. When the bread came out cold and had only four slices, Jun was not happy at all. Other than that upsell, though, everything else at Cervo’s was delicious. At Hart’s, we had a warm shrimp dish that I thought was quite good; this time we had a chilled one that was equally delicious. The clams at Cervo’s didn’t come out with the toast underneath this time like at Hart’s, but we enjoyed them just as much with an addictive white wine sauce that added an aromatic flavor to the fresh clams.
For main dishes, chicken skewers with sweet onions and yogurt were serviceable, while Jun was highly impressed with the black sea bass with roasted squid and pistachios that she thought was expertly cooked and the ingredients working together beautifully. My only issue with the bass was that the seasoning didn’t seem to have been done evenly across the fish as I thought it could lose a bit of salt while Jun (who is even more sensitive to salt than I am) thought otherwise. My favorite dish of the night belonged to the vanilla pudding with pears and hazelnuts. The delightful sensation of vanilla, combined with the textural combination with pears and hazelnuts, made for one of the better desserts I’ve had this year.
Cervo’s takes reservations and the restaurant space is almost as small as the tiny and cozy space at Hart’s, so I highly recommend booking a spot in advance. If possible, by all means get a seat at the counter and watch the kitchen in action live. There is full bar with a heavy emphasis on unique wines and other alcoholic beverages from Spain and Portugal that you shouldn’t miss. Cervo’s is another welcome addition to the already flourishing Lower East Side dining scene that deserves a visit for its cooking. If you are a seafood person, definitely give it a try.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 43 Canal Street, New York, NY 10002
Telephone: (212) 226-2545