There are many reasons to check out Prima, the unpretentious little seafood and cocktail restaurant that recently opened in the East Village. For one thing, consider the concise array of meticulously concocted drinks from cocktail whiz Greg Seider of the Summit Bar. If you like rye, for example, you'll dig The Mancini, made with Michter's Rye, Meletti Amaro, and Smoked Cinnamon Bitters. Seider's the man, but this is a team effort, and the "fish focused" dinner menu is orchestrated by Motorino chef Mathieu Palombino and David Malbequi, who are both committed to serving fish that are not endangered, sustainably caught, and as local as possible based on seasonal availability.
From the appetizers, try the Sardines Rillettes, which consist of tender Portuguese sardines, Tapenade, mint and olive oil. The seafood entrees are prepared simply, with nowhere for a sub-par, unfresh fish to hide. In a form of dining choose-your-own-adventure, YOU choose the sauce to accompany your seafood, such as Buttermilk Tartar (recommended for the Tempura Hake) or Pesto, which could be paired with the Scallops or the Skate. Obviously, Prima is not an ideal destination for the indecisive, but rewards the adventurous.
Whatever you do, save room for dessert, because Prima's best sweet option, the Mille Feuille ($9), is off the chain. We tried it at a press preview not long after Prima opened, and it still haunts our sugarplum dreams. As you can see here, it's a puff pastry with several layers of filling: the top layer is chantilly cream, with a spread of strawberry jam, and a bottom layer of vanilla cream. The whole affair is topped with confectioner's sugar and floats to the table on a cloud pulled by two radiant cherubs, who spoon feed it to you then force you to lick the plate clean. The best part: when they fly the plate away, they take all the calories with them. True story.
58 East First Street // (646) 559-4823