Tribeca Citizen | New Kids on the Block: Canal Street Oysters
I feel like this is my eighteenth post about Canal Street Oysters – such has been the anticipation around the re-envisioning of this corner of the neighborhood. And since we lived with the Canal Room and Haus which both blacked-out the windows and shrouded the very handsome 1897 Rawitzer building (see Tom Miller’s post here) the new vision almost makes you feel a little euphoric, like all is not lost.
The project is the fifth (well, really the ninth, but I’ll get to that) outlet for the brothers Martignetti – Anthony and Tom. Their Broome Street Hospitality group also operates Eastfield’s, East Pole and East Pole Fish Bar on the Upper East Side and Pizza Beach on Orchard, and for 12 years they had the Soho hotspot Brinkley’s, on Broome. They had been trolling for a space on Canal for a while and swooped in on this one. “It’s the last street the community doesn’t mind having a bar on,” said Anthony. “And it’s at the cusp of the two best neighborhoods in the city,” said Tom. “It’s actually got personality.” (The two both live on the Upper East Side but keep their office in Soho.)
The space has a décor that is a mashup between old New York and Cape Cod, with navy everything, a massive limestone bar, Mexican tile floors and the original tin ceilings (it was designed by Anthony). But it’s the views and the windows that make it so special. With just a taxpayer across West Broadway, the place is flooded with western light in the afternoon, making it hard to resist the call of day drinking. There are seats in the window running along the Canal Street side for watching the world go by, as the boys said; there are also super cute little two-person tables built banquette-style along the narrower part of the space. (Overall the room has a capacity of 200, with a private room for 45-60.)
The menu is small unless you love oysters, and then it’s huge (I’m from Oyster Bay but I’ve never been a big oyster gal, so went with the fish tacos and rock shrimp roll instead.) There is not a salad on the menu, and this is Tribeca, so I imagine things will shift and evolve. The menu gets printed every day to keep up with the tides.
It’s definitely a bar bar, and even on Day 9, it had a groove: at 4:30 there were maybe four people in there; by 6 the bar was filled along with several tables. At 7:30, most of the hightops were occupied along with the booths along the edges. My litmus test: hooks under the bar. (They are there.)
As for the owners, they like to hang at their own places (though when not, they have a soft spot for champagne at Balthazar) and you are likely to spot them here in these next few weeks, so say hi. The two are imports from Winchester, Mass., and first opened a bar on the LES in 2004 when they were in their 20s (one brother was a metal sculptor, one was in commercial real estate) named for their great-grandfather’s liquor store, Martignetti Liquors. (“Our grandfather always said Martignettis are only comfortable with a cash register in front of them.” –Tom) Over the next 15 years, the original bar would shape shift a few times, they would open their first restaurant in 2013 with the Fat Radish folks – all of which eventually brought them here, and, as they said, all the while refining the concept. “Food is a process and you have to constantly be learning,” said Tom. “We work with really great chefs, but you have to work at it every single day.” For Canal Street Oysters, it’s chef Charlene Santiago, who comes from the John Dory Oyster Bar and Reynard.
Canal Street Oysters
380 Canal St. at West Broadway
Monday-Friday: 4p to midnight (lunch coming eventually)
Saturday & Sunday: 1p to midnight