Affectionately dubbed the “dark prince of Italian fine dining” by his previous employee Anthony Bourdain, Pino Luongo is perhaps the most prolific NYC restaurateur casual diners have never heard of. Luongo got his start at a family restaurant in Tuscany as a teenager and first opened Il Cantinori in the East Village in 1983. Many more followed and faded near and far, and now the veteran hospitality professional is back with a new operation.
Coco Shack, a seafood spot that opens in Soho on Friday, June 10, takes influences from “the Mediterranean, South America, Asia and New England,” according to a press release. Its premier menu includes chilled or roasted oysters, soft shell crab tempura, grilled peaches with toasted pistachios, feta and castelfranco radicchio and an assortment of pastas like lobster raviolo and tagliolini sea urchin, raw kampachi, squash blossoms and salmon roe.
A black sea bass, catch of the day and shareable paella bursting with “ocean treasures” are also available. Items max out at $38 (the daily fish is market price), and a four-course tasting is listed at $125. Wines by the glass start at $12 and bottles run from $48 to $260.
The 18-seat dining room is also evocative of the coast in spite of its downtown Manhattan location. Its cheery seafoam green walls, marble table tops and white-tiled exposed kitchen are all brightened up even further by an abundance of natural light that streams in through large windows and French doors that open onto the sidewalk. There’s room for 20 more outdoors.
Coco Shack is located at 184 Prince Street. It will be open Tuesday-Sunday from 5pm to 11pm beginning June 10. Lunch service will follow.