Navy is not just another trendy SoHo seafood restaurant. Its formula for success may sounds familiar—a head chef with a cult following; the ability to pack 51 diners into a very small space—but its interior design is entirely novel.
When owners Matt Abramcyk and Akiva Elstein of Smith & Mills in Tribeca came up with a maritime concept for their second restaurant, they wisely hired Stockholm-based interior designer Jeanette Dalrot as their collaborator and fellow conceptionalist. Navy has a double meaning for Abramcyk and Elstein, referencing both the US Navy and the color, specifically the richly nuanced version seen in Japanese indigo-dyed textiles. Abramcyk, Elstein, and Dalrot upholstered the walls in a patchwork of indigo and mustard linen, and vintage military tent canvas held in place with rows of copper grommets. Semaphore flags from Navy warships serve as delicate room dividers between the main bar and dining tables. The navy color palette extends from the indigo window coverings to the staff's navy work jackets. And on the walls, straps and pockets of tanned leather hold everything—from menus to wine bottles—in place, as if the restaurant itself were a naval ship sailing the rocky seas.
Photography by Nicole Franzen for Navy.
Above: The exterior of Navy is finished in a high- gloss black paint. In the afternoon and evening, window panels of vintage Japanese indigo fabric are unrolled to cover the lower half of the windows.
Above: At the front, a raw bar serves fresh oysters, clams, and sea urchin for uni toast. In the morning, the same counter doubles as a pastry and espresso bar. The shelving behind it is custom-made of bronze and copper.
Above L: Camille Becerra, former owner of Paloma (a restaurant housed in converted Greenpoint parking garage), is head chef at Navy. Above R: Co-owner Matt Abramcyk at the helm of the espresso machine.
Above: Navy and white square and triangular tiles pattern the raw bar in a subtly nautical design. The hardwood floors are finished in a heavy wash of white paint.
Above: The staff's indigo jackets (worn by chef Becerra above) were designed by Lady and Butler and modeled after vintage workwear.
Above: Panels of distressed copper meet walls upholstered in indigo- and pale-yellow-dyed linen and canvas. The ceiling and the exposed walls are treated with plaster tinted in a terra-cotta-colored paint. The wall sconces were found in an antiques shop in Brooklyn and restored to working condition.
Above: Elstein found the bowling alley benches at Brimfield; they were then cut and custom fit into benches and booths.
Above: Becerra focuses the menu on vegetables sourced from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op and seafood. Among her favorites: the house-cured fish blinis and seedy crackers with primo sardines.
Above L: Antique WWII semaphore flags found on eBay divide the front booth from the bar (and also line the walls of the bathroom). Above R: The yellow fabric comes from WWII military duffle bags.
Above: Leather works well with indigo denim and canvas: a row of barstools are fitted with vegetable-tanned leather seats.
Above: The restaurant has two antique fold-up train sinks purchased on eBay; the one in the raw bar is shown here.
Above: Leather pockets affixed to the wall are filled with menus, and, in the front, magazines are held in place by belt-sized straps on the wall.
Location of Navy in NYC: