Ravi DeRossi—the nightlife virtuoso behind Death & Company, Proletariat and Gin Palace—builds on every inch of his East Village cevicheria, Desnuda, with this Williamsburg offshoot. Opened in May, the maritime seafood bar—decked out with hand-carved mermaid statues, porthole-like windows and seafarers’ maps—features 30 more seats than the original, with plush banquettes and a backyard garden. In addition to a bulked-up seafood menu, the bar branches out from its forebear’s wine-only format to include a ballsy lineup of chili-invigorated quaffs.
ORDER THIS: Desnuda translates to “naked” from Spanish, but nothing comes unadorned on chef Dominic Martinez’s inventive, Latin-focused menu. Raw oysters (four for $18) get a stoner’s hit of tea smoke from a house-made gravity bong. Ceviches are complexly layered: Thinly sliced yellowfin tuna ($19) is dressed rococo-style in a shishito-yuzu-truffle glaze, topped with pickled jalapeño, crisp red onion and salty potato-chip bits; and plump seared sea scallops ($19) arrive in a zippy soy-citrus sauce, crowned with creamy avocado balls, juicy orange slices and subtly peppery basil.
GOOD FOR: Heat seekers. Martinez and company source peppers from Cape Cod’s Nobska Farms and they are potently felt at the four-stool cocktail bar in back. Devil’s Tongue chilies add a diabolical edge to the Prufrock & a Hard Place ($11), soothed with delicate peach liqueur, sweet muscatel, fruity pisco and lemon; a piquant one-two punch of pasilla and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion—currently the world’s hottest chili, at 2 million–plus Scoville units—is a sinus-clearing contrast with sweet-tart Cherry Heering, dry fino sherry, cachaça and Peychaud’s bitters in the Reformer ($14).
THE CLINCHER: Sit back, relax and enjoy the show—there’s no kitchen, just a sushi fridge, a popcorn maker and a toaster oven, so all of the “cooking” is done right in front of you at the wooden bar. Along with the tableside blazer treatment for the oysters, on a recent visit, the personable chefs theatrically whipped out a blowtorch to brûlée doughnut peaches for a soft-shell crab special ($18). And when the crowd dies down to a few lone barstool warriors, the staff loosens up even more, pouring gratis shots of pico.—Christina Izzo