Pete Wells finds that the fairly new Lower East Side restaurant Cervo’s acts more like a wine bar than a full-service restaurant — and that’s just fine.
The critic waxes about the unique wine list drawing from Portugal and Spain at the 43 Canal Street restaurant from Nialls Fallon and Nicks Perkins, whose freshman restaurant in Bed-Stuy Hart’s has gained national acclaim. Wine at Cervo’s requires “leaving familiar landmarks behind,” he writes. Meanwhile, the food menu’s small portions and simple preparations are more akin to a sophisticated wine bar, with a seafood focus and a standout chicken skewer:
The kitchen has a way of applying just enough chile heat to register: The pink flesh of yellowfin tuna was just starting to go opaque from lemon juice stirred with fermented Serrano chiles, while pickled banana peppers accentuated the sweetness of marinated and browned scallops, and stopped there.
Cockles or small clams steamed open in vinho verde with garlic seem always to be on the menu, and they make a very delicious next step after cold seafood. There is often a strangely likable beef tartare with littlenecks and so much of the clams’ steaming juices that it almost comes across as some kind of mutant chowder. Fish — porgy or Boston mackerel recently — goes right on the plancha in one piece.
Dessert like the custard with anise hyssop, or vanilla pudding with peaches and yellow husk tomatoes are also worth ordering, he writes. But Wells is wary of overhyping the place the way that food media has gotten “carried away over Hart’s.” “So I won’t make extravagant promises. I think you should just go and see what happens.” One star.