At Saint Julivert Fisherie, esteemed neighborhood restaurateurs Alex Raij and Eder Montero will step outside Spanish cuisine to serve seafood with flavors from far more countries — from the jerk of Jamaica to the curry of India.
The duo, known for their expertise in Iberian cuisine at longtime spots like El Quinto Pino in Chelsea, are focusing on fish at their newest Cobble Hill restaurant, which will otherwise avoid categorization in flavor profiles or single cuisines. A tuna casserole, like the kind one might geographically find in Minnesota, is made instead with ingredients more commonly found in India than in the Midwest.
Raij and Montero will debut the restaurant this week at 264 Clinton St., at the corner of Verandah Place. It’s the same space that once held their shuttered coffee shop Tekoá, an all-day enterprise that ended up being more of a cafe than a full restaurant despite serving food. The tiny space, now seating 30 to 40 diners, instead puts dinner at the centerpiece.
“This new iteration is just so much more on brand for us,” Raij tells Eater. “It sort of represents freedom but also an opportunity to tell a different story.”
At Saint Julivert, the chefs pull from a variety of cuisines for the menu. That India-Minnesota tuna casserole is made with curry leaf and turmeric, and the Kanpachi collar is jerked, using flavors of Jamaica. A prego sandwich, the only beef item on the menu, stems from a Portuguese recipe. The dishes are meant to coexist on the same table even though they come from different landscapes, Raij says.
Most items will be cooked, although a few raw options like ceviche and octopus carpaccio — a Txikito favorite — will exist. Chilled plates include a pig ear terrine with broiled oysters and pickled wild shrimp with sweet onion, while hot plates feature a squid with salsa verde and the tuna casserole. Eventually a whole fish will be served, too. And Venetian-style risottos and pasta dishes will be added when winter arrives, Raij says.
Despite the mix of new flavors, Saint Julivert was created as a platform for Raij and Montero to showcase their ability to handle fish. The Spanish cuisine at their existing restaurants like La Vara and Txikito call attention to flavor, Raij says, but here they want to focus on highlighting the quality of the fish. The restaurant’s menu is also tied to their personal cooking habits.
“We eat simply at home, and fish I think just naturally requires simplicity,” Raij says.
Though the focus will be seafood, the sleek, lounge-like restaurant is in no way nautical. The stucco on the wall, Raij says, reminds her of the outside of a fish market, and the interior was inspired by the Maison de Verre, a glass house in Paris. A stainless steel bar with high seating will pour cocktails and rhum agricole, served neat.
A coastal wine menu is organized by body of water, and cider and beer will also be on offer. If La Vara, El Quinto Pino, and Txikito serve as any indication of what’s to come, Saint Julivert is poised to become a neighborhood favorite.
The restaurateurs — who also own La Vara, two doors down — hope the renovated space will attract the same local crowd that Tekoa did. “I really believed in the location, and I believed in the people that were coming in here,” Raij says.
Saint Julivert is opening on Thursday. After this week it will be open from Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will stay open later on Friday and Saturday.