Occupying a standalone building, practically within touching distance of the trusses of the Williamsburg Bridge, the wind-pummeled All Hands feels rather like its own, tiny island, borne more of the river than the neighborhood stretched out behind it. It’s an illusion furthered by Craig Shillito’s interiors—a sweep of whitewashed brick, nautical blue banquettes, knotty wood, and a wall of crashing waves—and moreover, Peter Lipson’s food program, owing to its laser-like focus on local seafood.
Not only does the former Northern Spy chef serve up Eastern seaboard basics (such as raw oysters, lobster rolls and shellfish bisque), he shines a spotlight on seldom-utilized underwater creatures as well. Take bluefish, for instance—favored by sports fishermen out in Sheepshead Bay. Instead of sublimating the oily, assertively-flavored catch, Lipson cures it with sake and doubles down with nam pla, a sweet, sour, and savory Thai-style fish sauce.
USA-sourced skate wing is deposited in chowder, cheap and plentiful mussels top toast, and cubes of salsa verde-rubbed hake get strung on skewers, along with fat squares of pork belly, a rare, non-piscine flourish. Among the entrees, Point Pleasant swordfish piccata proves an agreeable substitute for steak, larded with lemony gravy and capers, and attended by baby carrots and leeks.
With your back to the bar bustle of greater Williamsburg, and eyes aimed starboard, through the girders of the bridge to the expanse of the East River beyond, it’s exceedingly easy to feel one with the wind and waves at All Hands.
29 Dunham Pl., South Williamsburg