New York City is surrounded by a lot of sea. The Northeast corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Troutman Street in Bushwick, however, is not one of those places. That coordinate once, briefly, and recently, was home to Lorenzo’s; its swift departure was a mystery but not one we could ruminate on for too long because—just like that—it has become home to Sea Wolf. As mentioned, the new seafood-heavy, all-day, seven-days-a-week restaurant is not on the water or anywhere very close to it, but owner Daniel Cipriani has done his utmost to trick us, and make us believe it is anyway.
Here’s why you should go to Sea Wolf: to focus on the sea part of the sea- and land-fare served there. While you’re at it, go all-in and pretend like you’re sitting on the beach—it won’t be too hard. It’s a place where Cipriani spends quite a lot of time (in addition to owning Lodge and my breakfast sandwich go-to, Urban Rustic, he also has Playland Motel and Grill in Rockaway; and, the man loves to fish). At Sea Wolf, Cipriani tapped his own design skills to create a space—open to the street on two sides with lots of sidewalk seating, and heavy with sea-themed objects (pictures of seafaring vessels, fish, surf boards, strings of beachy lights)—that drips, aesthetically, of all things water-based.
As you sit outside there one evening (and please do so soon because it’s warm and sunny, and you need this), and drink a frozen beverage and suck down an oyster, just block out Bushwick happening in the near background and replace it with an imaginary scene of sea and sand. It will be a short but sweet vacation, and you also need that, because you live and work here.
To sweeten your moment of unplugging, Cipriani has given us a happy hour to make a happy-hour lover weep: Seven days a week, from 4pm – 7pm, you can order dollar oysters, plus five dollar frozen drinks, wine, draughts, and three dollar buds. Go alone, go with buds, but whatever you do, just go and do that, because this is an economy to celebrate.
We went last weekend and did just that, so I’m not spreading fluff, just true feelings. Here were the standouts: first and foremost, the smoked bluefish dip. It is, purportedly, Cipriani’s pride and joy. He even catches the blue fish out of which his dip is made. Served in a jar, it is creamy and fishy in all the right ways, and comes with raisin bread toast (trust me, this sweet pairing works) and a single pickle. Then, the oysters, of course. They are the right size (not too big), the right price, and come with plenty of mignonettes. Also, the octopus: it is so tender. Finally, the lobster and shrimp dog: made in a casing, just like a hot dog, battered, deep-fried, and finished with spicy mustard—this is a true standout. I have a mild allergy to both lobster and shrimp, and, even knowing I’d react mildly to it, I had to take a bite. It had a texture and mildly-sweet flavor to die for (that pun was not intended but, in my case, actually true).
Beverage-wise, I suggest sticking with draughts. The cocktails, while pretty, are not what you should throw down for (unless, unlike last weekend, frozen drinks are available; they are $10 as opposed to the $12 cocktails and, when they can be ordered, the correct course of action is to choose frozen drinks every time). If you must have a cocktail, the 10 ft and Glassy is a gorgeous, deep emerald color that is fun to look at, rum-heavy boozy and finished with a pineapple slice. Otherwise, do an Aperol spritz. It’s refreshing, and befitting of a beach vacation—which, remember? You are currently on, at last.
Sea Wolf; 19 Wyckoff Ave., Bushwick
All photos by Sasha Turrentine