I’m really glad to know Little Eva’s is back on the island for 2015. I fell in love with it three years ago, and the charming beer garden on the island. Grilled food and cold beer? I’m there. Little Eva’s is the outpost of Kevin’s Red Hook, the seafood restaurant and catering operation run by Kevin Moore and Caroline Parker. Little Eva’s is located on Liggett Terrace and will be open 10am-6pm Thursday to Sunday, and holiday Mondays, May 23 until the end of September. Kevin answered questions about what the plans are for 2015, and what he loves about the island.
How did Little Eva’s begin? Is it an extension of what you’re doing at your Red Hook restaurant?
We visited Governors Island when it first opened for tours to the public and we’re always intrigued by it. A contact from Southwest Brooklyn Development Corporation, Mark Genua, knew we were caterers and interested in offsite projects. When he handed us the RFP we were all over it. In 2011 we proposed a little homemade cedar toadstool of a shack that looked like it just sprouted from the southern tip of the island. As a seaside venue we thought it was natural to have a raw bar, or a “Shuck and a Beer,” as we called it. And of course cold salads and grilled fish were tasty… We also wanted to make items that were classics, grilled picnic-style, like bratwurst, corn on the cob, and snappy charred hot dogs. House-made fruit pies are a specialty in Red Hook, so Sorel blueberry minis with fresh whipped cream became a staple. We also naturally cater weddings on the island.
Why do you like being on Governors Island? What drew you to want to be on the island?
It’s very hard to describe how incredible the Governors Island experience is. In our digital age it’s something that you simply have to see in person to believe. As native New Yorkers, the fresh views of Liberty, the Verrazano-Narrows, and Lower Manhattan. Not to mention our favorite docks of Red Hook are endlessly surprising. But it’s the ultimate unwind in a snap that strikes us, the feeling that you’re in an oasis with peaceful sea breezes, no constant hum of cars, no city tension, yet just a hop skip away. The history is rich of course – the first land that the Dutch ever set foot on, the fishing camp of the Lenape tribe. One is tempted to think that the island holds secrets not yet discovered. The fact that the place is flourishing as a contemporary art scene and festival mecca echos this sense of rejuvenating mystery. Honestly though, if we had to name one aspect of the island that we love most, it’s that it is totally unpretentious, a true melting pot of all kinds of people, each letting down their guard and relaxing. We hope Little Eva’s is a reflection of that rare quality.
What is Little Eva’s serving this season? Are there new items on the menu?
This is our current menu. This season we’re adding daily grain based salads, cold soups, and more choices for kids like the Eva Lassi – A 7-oz fruit yogurt smoothie at a family-friendly $4.
What’s the #1 thing customers go for?
Fish lovers ask for our mahi taco and the whole shrimp bun with mango, avocado, and scallion. Meat eaters typically love the juicy pulled pork of a Red Hook Cuban with spicy mayo, pickles and Swiss. Our fruit salads. We are offering Pat LaFrieda Burgers this year. One of the best: servers bring classic Myers Rum piña coladas with fresh pineapple wedges, and local brews such as Sweet Action and Summer Ale.
If you could give one reason for people to come to the island and visit your operation what would it be?
It’s just 15 minutes to your secret island getaway. Fresh air and grilled seafood, local libations, what else do you need?
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.