Bon Chovie Brings Its Fried Fish to Bay Ridge

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When you pop into Bon Chovie (7604 Third Avenue, formerly Zito’s), the new restaurant from Smorgasburg darling Renae Holland, you’ll notice the charming seafaring decor. I’m not a decor guy, necessarily, but it was just the kind I was hoping for: subway tile, darkwood floors, fishing nets and buoys and a prominently painted anchor grace the narrow restaurant’s dining room and bar.
The motto here is “fresh fish fast,” so I dove deep into the straightforward menu, selecting fried anchovies (the eatery’s name tells me that I have to try these), fried calamari, New England clam chowder, fish and chips and grilled mahi mahi tacos. Everything came out hot and delicious. The anchovies were salty and crisp, the calamari were lightly battered and fried to perfection, the soup had a perfect peppery bite, the fish and chips are some of the best in the neighborhood (already!), and the mahi mahi tacos were excellent. (There was a little too much cabbage, but that’s a minor quibble.) Getting all of the above will set you back a bit of money, but that blow was softened by the $3 Narragansett Lager draught on special.
I spoke with Holland about her new venture.
How did you end up landing in Bay Ridge when you made your way east from Seattle?
I landed a job as a music supervisor in NYC after I graduated from a music-business school in Florida. I had never visited New York, flew in for the job interview, checked out an apartment in Bay Ridge, and flew back in the span of 10 hours. I hopped in the car and drove straight from Orlando to my new rented room on 79th and Third!
What drew you back to open your brick-and-mortar here?
I started searching for kitchen-rental space in Bay Ridge when I opened my shipping container restaurant in Coney Island, as an offshoot of Smorgasburg, this past summer. Zito’s was leasing space to a few small-batch producers such as myself, and I was happy have a kitchen close to Coney. The owner, Marcello, and I got to know each other pretty well. He is a really great guy, wonderful business sense. We complemented each other really well, and eventually decided to partner-up and change the front of house to Bon Chovie. It was really just a right place, right time kind of thing—he was heading back to work in finance and didn’t have time to focus on the restaurant. I was facing the end of my outdoor season and looking for a new project.
You’re known for crispy fried anchovies, but the menu has significantly expanded for the restaurant. How did you decide on what to add, and are anchovies still the star?
I designed the menu as a mix of items that have been a hit at Smorgasburg (the salmon burger and fish-and-chips) and things that I would like to see on a menu when I go out. I wanted to add some grilled items and salads for a lighter option, and I make this killer crab mac-and-cheese for special occasions; it’s so rich and decadent. It always makes me happy, so I wanted to add that. Anchovies will always be the star of course; they are the reason my business was able to grow to this point and have been super popular at the restaurant so far.
How would you describe the Bay Ridge food scene?
Eclectic! There is really a little taste of everything here. I think there is a bigger selection of multicultural food in Bay Ridge than in many other neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Have you sampled any other Bay Ridge eats?
YES! Some of my favorites are: burritos at Ho’Brah; Pho Tai and pork spring rolls at Pho Hoai; everything at Tanoreen; wings at Kettle Black; Pizza Wagon!
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2 comments on “Bon Chovie Brings Its Fried Fish to Bay Ridge

  1. Zito’s is gone despite Zito’s original claim to the contrary. I have a feeling this place might be too if they’re only going to be open at night (weekends included).

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