A classic chicken plus wine are a food dream team, and the dream team behind small but mighty neighborhood restaurant hits Cervo’s and Hart’s know it. Their latest project, a casual bar and restaurant called The Fly, is all about those two things — low-key and far more straightforward than their other two projects. It opens tonight, just down the street from Hart’s in Bed-Stuy.
Partners Leah Campbell, Nialls Fallon, Nick Perkins, and chef Katie Jackson knew they wanted their next project to be mostly a bar and have a more casual vibe than their other restaurants, with lower price points.
“We wanted it to feel like an extension of being at home,” Fallon says. “It’s something you do with friends and people you care about: Sit around and eat a chicken with your hands and drink some good wine and not have it cost a lot of money.”
The menu at The Fly is simple: The heart of the menu is rotisserie chicken, which comes in half- or full-sized orders ($18 and $32). Sides include potatoes, seasoned fries, and greens, a salad, and a chicken sandwich. Both Hart’s and Cervo’s are also known for their wine lists, and the eye for natural wines and small producers expanded to The Fly as well. The list hops around the world, with wines from Italy, France, Mexico, and Chile, and the options span the spectrum of funkiness.
The team has made its name on building small restaurants with tight but creative menus, geeky yet accessible wine lists, and a downtown cool kid vibe. Hart’s opened in 2016 and was named one of the best new restaurants in America shortly after; Cervo’s on the Lower East Side got a star from the Times, which praised it for the wine list.
But while those restaurants double as special occasion, destination restaurants and neighborhood restaurants, The Fly will lean much further into the latter. The plan, Fallon says, was always for it to be the most locally focused of the three, with hopes that people could visit multiple times a week. Its menu also won’t change regularly, rooting itself in rotisserie chicken and sides.
And it’s open late-night. They’ll be cranking the music up a notch more here than elsewhere, and serving a shot here wouldn’t be off in the way it might be at Hart’s.
“We want to be a neighborhood watering hole,” Perkins says.
That casual feel applies to the 70-seat space, too. Diner-style napkin dispensers sit on the tables, and the menus are posted on letter boards. A wall of wine bottles sits in the dining room behind the front bar area, but even that has an at-home look to it.
In addition to the wines, there are takes on classic cocktails, like a dirty martini and a scotch and ginger. Most of the cocktails go for $11 or $12, slightly less than the drinks at Hart’s across the board. The “mosca de la fruta,” or “fruit fly,” which is the most popular cocktail at Hart’s and also the inspiration behind the new restaurant’s name, is a dollar less at The Fly.
“We think of this as where you would want to go after you’ve finished dinner at Cervo’s or Hart’s,” Fallon says. “Maybe you want to continue with your night in a similar feel, but maybe it’s a little darker, you’ve already had a drink or two, and you want to just have a little fun with your friends.”