Food doesn’t have to be fancy in order to be good. Just look at most pizza. Or go eat some seafood in pretty much any coastal area. It probably won’t need much to taste great. Olive oil, salt, some other sh*t - we don’t know, we aren’t chefs. But at least a few people at Cervo’s are, and they seem to be familiar with this concept.
Cervo’s is from the people behind Hart’s, one of our favorite restaurants in Bed-Stuy, and the two places have a lot in common. They’re Mediterranean-inspired and fairly casual, and they both serve good, unpretentious food. There are, however, two key differences: Cervo’s is on the Lower East Side, and most of the menu is fish.
Here, you’ll find a lot of small things like sardines with radishes, a “crispy” egg with anchovies, and a plate of clams in a white wine sauce. The food is Portuguese/Spanish, and it’s all pretty straightforward in a home-cooked sort of way. The tuna conserva, for example, is basically just a great tuna salad with some lettuce, hazelnuts, and a ton of olive oil. It isn’t especially high-concept, but you probably wouldn’t be able to replicate it at home.
There are also a few larger things here, and if you’re especially hungry, these are what you should focus on. The menu changes daily, but there’s pretty much always a whole fish (something like porgy or mackerel) and the same lamb burger they do at Hart’s. Compared to the sizes of the starters, both of these things are relatively good deals.
And that’s one of the main things you should be aware of here. Two hungry people could probably eat every small plate at Cervo’s and still have room for a run to Shake Shack afterwards. This is the double-edged sword of quality seafood. It’s pricey, and the portions tend to be small. The clams, for example, are about $16 and amount to maybe one mouthful of food.
Keep that in mind if you’re on a date - a scenario that Cervo’s is pretty perfect for. This place is just one long, narrow room with a bar up front and a few tables in the back, and they keep the music at a volume that’s just right for when you want to look into someone’s eyes and tell them that you’d like to adopt a dog together, or that you’re willing to give up a life of crime to be with them, or both.
Just be sure to bring someone who really likes fish, and know that this isn’t the very best place to eat a full meal. If you want to hang out, have a glass of wine, and snack on some simple food that tastes like the ocean, however, this is a pretty ideal spot.
They charge $2 for a few slices of bread here, which technically isn’t cool - but it comes in handy with most dishes, so you should probably just order it.
This isn’t great for sharing, but it makes a good snack if you have some bread to mop up the yolk. You can, however, easily skip this one.
The clams are a nice touch in this coarsely-chopped steak tartare, and this is something we’d definitely order again. It is, however, a little small, and it could probably use some potato chips or something.
One of our favorite things here. Hazelnuts go surprisingly well with tuna, and olive oil goes well with everything.
If you love tiny clams, order these. They won’t do much for your hunger, but they’re fun to eat, and we’re fans of the broth.
There will be some kind of whole fish on the menu when you come here, and it’ll come grilled with stuff like peppers, potatoes, and aioli. If you don’t mind picking a few bones out of your teeth, you’ll enjoy this.
This pudding tastes like liquid cake batter. It’s a little sweet, but there’s also some fruit on top, so it’s technically healthy.