A vibrant new pan-Caribbean restaurant debuts with outdoor dining in Williamsburg this month from first-time restaurateurs and married couple Ria and Kevol Graham. The new spot, dubbed Kokomo — named after the popular 1980’s Beach Boys song about an island where lovers could escape to — is located at 65 Kent Avenue, between North 10th and North 11th Streets.
Kokomo’s menu, run by executive chef Christian Aranibar, revolves around a fusion of many Caribbean island flavors that meld together in a number of ways, including on top of an array of flatbreads that the Grahams say have been very popular with customers so far. The eclectic flatbreads feature toppings including braised oxtail, sautéed ackee and shrimp, and a pile of rasta pasta in a creamy house sauce.
There’s a substantial vegan portion to the menu as well, including lentil meatballs served with a Trinidadian ginger coconut curry sauce and a whole roasted cauliflower with a Jamaican jerk cashew sauce.
In the couple of weeks that the restaurant has been open, Ria says that they’ve been selling out of the food on a near-nightly basis, which was a welcome surprise after pushing for months to get the restaurant open amid the pandemic. “With us finally being open during COVID-19, which is a struggle on its own, and then to have the turnout that we’ve had — it’s been such a blessing,” Ria says.
The drinks program, run by bartender Rael Petit, includes a sweet ginger juice and two frozen fruit punches featuring housemade syrups flavored with Grenadian spices. The drinks are all non-alcoholic for now, Kevol says, as the restaurant is still waiting on approval for a liquor license that the co-founders applied for about nine months ago.
For outdoor diners, Kokomo’s exterior space is marked by a colorful mural painted onto the side of the red brick building, featuring a Bob Marley lyric, “every little thing is gonna be alright,” written onto the wall. The location faces Bushwick Inlet park across the street, and is situated about a block from the East River.
The breezy, relaxed vibe of the restaurant plays into the moniker that the Grahams chose for the spot. “We want people to feel like they can come here and meet as lovers — or meet their lovers,” Ria says with a laugh. Ria and Kevol were recently married themselves, and Ria, who is 26, gave birth to the couple’s second child in March.
Kokomo is open for outdoor dining Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for brunch and dinner service, with reservations available on Resy. The restaurant is also doing takeout and delivery on DoorDash and Uber Eats.