Navy: A Street Urchin Worth Adopting

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In a sea of waxing and then waning French bistros and Northern Italian cafes that roll in waves upon downtown Manhattan’s shores, there’s a refreshing air to Navy, a newish neighborhood joint on SoHo’s still-sleepy Sullivan Street. A few month’s in, it already has its sea legs.

No surprise, in that it’s helmed by selvedge-and-sustainable-loving Matt Abramcyk (Smith & Mills, Warren 77). Designed by Abramcyk, Akiva Elstein and Jeanette Dalrot with a maritime WWII aesthetic in check (military canvas covers the walls of the sunny space), the 51-seat restaurant’s menu leans towards fish-of-the-day brine. A front-of-the-room wet bar is commandeered by a New Orleans transplant (he knows his oysters, clams and sea urchin). Chef Becerra is crazy about blinis, and makes her own for caviar and house-cured fish. Sardines with house-made seedy crackers, anyone? The dishes we tried on two evening visits–all inventive in taste and preparation–included crispy gnocci with roasted pumpkin, ocean trout en croute (for two), black bass crudo, and Arctic char ceviche. Green market veggies mix it up in the salads and sides variety.

While the wine and beer selections are comprehensive and well-edited, we downed unfussy but distinct house cocktail numbers like the Sullivan Sour and the Lower Manhattan. And one late-spring day, we enjoyed an open-window view while slacking off work for Peronis and rose. As we like it, we seemed to know everyone coming in, from the Lower East Side to TriBeCa. It’s an unforced and effortlessly comfy spot.

Navy is serving both a no-fuss lunch and newspaper-reading breakfast (the latter showing signs of nabbing the local clientele left adrift when the Meatpacking District’s Pastis recently closed its doors (perhaps permanently). Eggs sandwiches and pastries from Bien Cuit can be taken to go or enjoyed over some Kitten Coffee.

As both Sullivan and MacDougal Streets’ little-cafes-that-could continue to succumb to the tsunami of commercial rent hikes (or they’re places that just plain suck or are ho-hum… next!), Navy looks to be a rare anchor to stick around in a nabe that can only really call Mekong, The Dutch, and the enduring Raoul’s stalwarts.

Best of all, if you’re staying at SIXTY SoHo and you’re feeling your oats for a stroll, it’s a likeminded respite to hit for mixing and noshing it up with the right kind of creative crowd. Abramcyk has a very local crew, at the tables and in the galley.

Navy Website
137 Sullivan St.
212.533.1137

Image via Nicole Franzen

Steve Garbarino

Steve Garbarino

Steve Garbarino is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a culture reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of "A Fitzgerald Companion."

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