Fresh Fish on Franklin: Pacifico’s Fine Foods

08/13/2014 4:00 AM |

Pacifico’s Fine Foods
798A Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights

Fresh is the word at Crown Heights newcomer Pacifico’s Fine Food, where small plates and seasonal ingredients rule. You’ll be tempted here to order many courses, and you should. You should also bring along a friend to share them with, particularly one who enjoys seafood. By the meal’s end, you’ll feel satisfied but not overly full, and refreshed in a way that most restaurants can’t offer.

Pacifico’s continues a trend along Franklin Avenue seemingly started by the nearby American restaurant Mayfield. This bustling drag of Crown Heights is slowly becoming home to more upscale restaurants, places for younger, cash-strapped residents to take their visiting parents. It’s not that Pacifico’s will break the bank. But it’s styled—in both menu and decor—for a nice night out. It’s all the work of Shanna Pacifico, the longtime chef of Back Forty in Manhattan. Her menu here has both American and Brazilian influences, with sections offering small plates, vegetable and grains, fish and shellfish, and meats.

Ceiling fans gently whirred through the small, tastefully decorated space as I walked in one warm summer evening. A friendly waiter helpfully walked me and my dining companion through the menu; we had his full attention the entire evening. Cocktails like the Sol-Basil­­—a Solbeso drink with lots of fresh basil—and the Pimm’s Cup, complimented with ginger beer, made the heat of the evening seem far away. A starter of pork yuca fritters, which give the impression of heaviness, didn’t taste so. The balls were lightly fried and tasted more of yuca than pork, nicely complemented by a lemony aioli sauce. What followed was a cucumber and buttermilk gazpacho flecked with roasted almonds—refreshing to the core.

We focused on the seafood dishes here and didn’t regret the decision, considering the seafood is paired with unique ingredients that result in unexpected flavor combinations. A sardine special came with spicy corn salsa and roasted peaches. It was a bizarre mix of fishy, spicy, and sweet, and, yes, it worked. Chunks of sockeye salmon shone in ceviche form, perfectly coated in coconut milk and fresh herbs. The Montauk Squid dish fell short; the smear of cocoa brown butter and pickled red onions didn’t do quite enough to elevate the actual seafood. The grilled plantains on the plate, however, were a highlight.

It was all topped off by an order of coconut panna cotta, nestled next to peach slices, blueberries, and quartered cherries. This desert was made for a late summer evening. In fact, the whole meal felt perfectly suited to its season. It’s enough to leave you anxious for what will inspire Chef Pacifico as the weather cools.