In The Prima Of Life


Lobster rolls have occupied the spotlight for quite awhile now but even these cherished bites are shoving over to allow for the reborn, rebirth, renewal of the oyster era! Hail to the bivalve. Temples to oysters have been popping up slowly over the last year or two and happily Prima popped – right into the waiting arms of the east village.

Brick walls, high topped marble tables, narrow wooden beams, edison bulbs and a glass enclosed kitchen make it feel current, cozy, and neighborhood relevant.

The pedigree of the owners/chef is substantial, the legendary Summit Bar notwithstanding. And the cocktails match their reputation. My favorite has already reached cult status – the Mancini. Michter’s rye, Meletti amaro, smoked cinnamon bitters. Paradise found.

Oysters are the siren song here. A selection of the best of Long Island turned my head right around. I’d been hoping for something more exotic but have to say – these were fabulous. Five different kinds from sweet to briny to creamy to heaven sent. Beau Soliel, St Simon, Malpeques and I can’t remember what else. Guess I over indulged on the sea water.

Beyond the oysters are several well chosen appetizers, a selection of crudo, vegetable sides and in no small way, the fish. Ah…the fish. Six choices and then a la Craft restaurant, you can decide on which perfectly crafted sauce should accompany. The menu is spare, straightforward and off the hook. So to speak.

Savor those ever so lightly fried crabcakes or the big wedges of marinated beets with horseradish, mustard and honey crisp apples (an obsession of mine). Clean, bright, layered. Then there’s the mainstay. Skate, scallops, red snapper, arctic char, hake and daurade. Toss on the nectar – pesto, vierge, green condiment, a ridiculous tartar or the bearnaise. Voila!

My skate was a poem. I loved it as already offered – capers, lemon and oil. Couldn’t be simpler, lighter or better. So I sampled each sauce from a side of the thickly cut well-seasoned french fries we ordered for the table. Sauteed mushrooms and first of the season asparagus made great plate companions for each of the fish ordered. Fried hake was excellent, not overdone, so – guilt free. The daurade was sweet and charred. Scallops? Succulent of course.

It’s all very convivial, the staff, the atmosphere, even the food. We were gifted a couple of desserts, the Mille Feuille being the icing on all of this bounty. A fantastic pastry that rounded out the meal to perfection. Complete with a birthday candle. Completely satisfied.

58 east 1st street between first/second avenue

* Header photo by Angela Carbonetti /


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